From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The people of Elele town in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State will not stop recounting the benefit of the Nigerian Army to them especially during the stay of Operation Crocodile Smile 4 which has recently ended.
Before the military operation as well as exercise there were reports of incessant attacks on the community people by hoodlums and cultists who grouped themselves attacking rivalry groups in the name of supremacy. During one of the attacks, the palace of a 102 years old traditional ruler was affected. Part of the palace building was pulled down, while the hoodlums also burnt the king’s car right in his palace.
It was gathered that in November last year some miscreants in the area attacked the palace of His Royal Majesty, Eze Jonathan O.G. Amadi, the Nye-Nwe Ali (Traditional Ruler) of Elele following the monarchs concluded plans in the security of the area. The boys suspected to have been sponsored by some persons believed to be benefiting from the insecurity in the area, stormed the palace of the king very early on the incident day and set it ablaze including the vehicles in the compound.
Following the development which devastated the community, the attention of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai was drawn to the incident and he made promise through the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division to replace the damaged properties of the king.
However, the Elele town was agog recently when a promise was fulfilled. The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, through the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major General Felix Agugo, presented a Prado VX Sporting Utility Vehicle (SUV) to the monarch, to replace his Land Cruiser VX SUV, which was destroyed by hoodlums in the area.
The Army Chief also renovated the palace of the king and fenced the compound. It was a prompt response after the attack by youths suspected to have been sponsored.
The 102 years old monarch, who has sight challenge, was guided by the GOC and other palace chiefs, as well as other community leaders, to the vehicle were it was parked in his premises. The old man with a heart filled with a joy touched the emblem of his title on the vehicle while the community people celebrate a fulfilled promise by the Nigerian Army.
In an interview with The AUTHORITY after the presentation of the car, the monarch said “I feel very happy today. I am happier than any of you here today. And I will continue to be happier.
“You are all my children and you all will continue to be my children forever and ever”, he prayed.
Also, a prominent traditional ruler in the area, Chief Mike Elechi, who spoke for the palace, described the event as memorable. He said it was a promise fulfilled.
Chief Elechi narrated that the attack was allegedly instigated by dubious individuals in the community, who were against the community looking for a solution to address their security challenges.
He recalled: “The incident happened in early November, 2019. In the wake of where communities were trying to take their security in their hands, the Nye-Nwe Ali approved the setting up of internal security.
“With that setting up of internal security, some miscreants, I can believe, sponsored some bad boys; saying if His Royal Majesty should approve the internal security, they should burn down his house.
“I was told that this incident happened at about 2am. The vehicle was parked beside his window. You can even see the burnt vehicle there. So, the attack had direct impact on his window.
“So, may be, if there was no intervention, they would have even burnt him alive inside. So, that was what happened”, he explained.
According to him, since the GOC visited the monarch with message from Chief of Army Staff, peace has been restored in the area.
“I think Elele is one of the quiet places in the entire Rivers State. People can now stay awake this midnight. They can even move about till 1am. Elele has returned to its normal situation because the military stepped in immediately.
“We commend the military for the situation we have today in the state. We commend Chief of Army Staff, who has been a friend of this community. He is like a son to His Royal Majesty. He has been a friend to this community right from the time he was in Rivers State. We commend him for promptly assembling the action General (Agugo), who came here and took the message immediately.
He advised youths of the community thus: “If somebody from far away can realise the importance of our majesty, I don’t think what the youths, who ventured into burning this vehicle and destroying the Nye-Nwe Ali place is right. It is unfair and very bad and they should have a change of heart.
“They should look forward, so that they can be assisted because, if the Chief of Army Staff can do this, what will the paramount ruler tell him (Buratai) that he cannot intervene?
Speaking on the reign of the monarch, Chief Elechi said: “It is the grace of God that has kept the Nye-Nwe Ali this far. It is God Almighty that has kept him alive. And you can see he is a very humble person, he is very intelligent despite his handicap. He does not hurt anybody.
“He is a bridge to everybody both to the chiefs and youths. It is just that the devil entered, I think the whole Nigeria, but the worse is Rivers State. The devil entered people minds in Elele an uprising which has never happened in our history, not even when the very humble main person is the paramount ruler”, Chief Elechi added.
Also speaking, Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, thanked the Nigerian Army for such an invaluable gesture.
Nwanosike, thanked the Chief of Army Staff for replacing the burnt car of Nyenwe Ali Elele town, stressing that the hoodlums and their sponsors who masterminded the act must be brought to book.
He pledged to work with the new General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Nigeria Army, Major Gen Felix Aguguo, and his team in fighting insecurity to standstill in Ikwerre LGA.
The chairman of Ikwerre LGA also thanked Mike Elechi, for all the supports he has been rendering to the officers of the Nigeria Army in the LGA, describing him as a father and symbol of authority of Ikwerre people.
He said “This man (monarch) here is our father. He is the symbol of authority of us as a people. What this gesture is to us is that it has given us hope that we can strive to live better in our society.
“What the Nigerian Army has done today is to restore the confidence in the people of Elele. You wouldn’t know our story yesterday. But, you can see that in the last three months, the security agencies in Rivers have made sure that Ikwerre Local Government and Nigeria are able to live in peace. And as you can see, I have come here to support the Nigerian Army and the people of Ikwerre Local Government Area are here to support them very well.
“You can hear what our father just said, that we should keep thanking the Nigerian Army for him. That he is happy.
“And I want to use this opportunity to call on the hoodlums, who are bent on perpetrating evil on the lives of people of Ikwerre Local Government Area, that there is no hiding place for them. They have only one option to either surrender and live peacefully with our people, or to stay away from this community, because we are peace-loving people”, Nwanosike warned.
Meanwhile, Maj Gen Felix Agugo has restated the Army commitment towards the security of lives and Property within the Niger Delta region and country at large.
He said the Crocodile smile exercise involved security operations against militancy, kidnapping, others vices, adding that the projects is to also improve civil-military relation across area of responsibilities.
General Agugo while handing over the car to the paramount ruler of Elele said it was part of civil military relationship and to build back the community confidence
The GOC said: “Because Eze Jonathan Amadi represents justice and has been cooperating with security forces, gangsters attacked his palace, and burnt his vehicle, putting him in distress. We have handled the criminals, all of them rounded up and neutralised.
“What is left is restoring the confidence and dignity of the His Majesty which also represents the confidence and dignity of the people of Elele. And this is why we took steps to renovate his house, paint it and replaced his burnt SUV.
“We are happy the people are out in their numbers to appreciate our contribution in the community. You can see the free medical services that are being rendered to the people. These services are part of our Corporate Social Responsibility to end the Operation Crocodile Smile 4″, Maj Gen Agugo added.