ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
A bloody communal clash looms between the Okpoama and Odioma people of Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over the ongoing trial census resulting in the issuance of eviction notice to indigenes of the Otokoloama fishing community by some armed youths.
It was gathered that some armed youths, allegedly from Odioma had warned Otokoloama indigenes to quit their fishing community within 24 hours or face wanton killings and destruction of their property.
The worried indigenes of Otokoloama fishing community, whose allegiance is to the Okpoama community, alleged that the armed youths that issued the notice came from Odioma community.
It was also gathered that youths, numbering about 10 and armed with AK-47 assault rifles and machetes, allegedly stormed the Otokoloama fishing community in a speedboat and warned the residents to quit in their own interest or face their wrath.
They were said to have boarded their boat and sped off after dropping the warning.
A fisherman and resident of Otokoloama community, who pleaded anonymity, said on the telephone that they had lived in the community for over 30 years, noting that the warning that they should vacate was shocking and worrisome.
He claimed that the eviction notice was not strange, saying that about three days ago, they stormed the area and started shooting to drive home the message that they meant business of evicting them.
The source said: “They came on Wednesday and started shooting into the air to show they meant business.
“Last time, the armed youths came with an exercise book requesting that we write the names of the residents but I refused because when I came in 1989 it was the Okpoama people that gave me permission to live in the community. The threat made us to leave immediately because we don’t know what they have planned.”
He called on the police and the Bayelsa State government to come to their aid, saying that it would be a challenge to feed his wife and six children if they abandoned their fishing community.
Also, a 52-year-old woman, who also craved anonymity, said: “When they came, they asked her questions which she refused to answer. So, they took her basin of fish and threw it into the river.
“They were about 10 of them. One of tthem asked me to tell those our Okpoama people that the day we meet them, there will be shootout.”
She said her sister has a 4-month-old baby and in order not to endanger the life of the baby they left for Okpoama with the help of one of her sisters who brought a canoe to carry her belongings.
Speaking on the development, Chairman, Okpoama Kingdom Council of Chiefs, Chief Inikio Sam Dede, described the alleged action of the Odioma youths as an attempt to truncate the existing peace in the area.
He said: ”The trial census is ongoing and Odioma youths are going round our communities chasing people away just to ensure that our population is reduced.
“We know their fishing ports and they know ours. Our youths have not gone to their fishing settlements to cause trouble. We are too refined for that.”
He said the matter had been reported to the police for further investigation and necessary action.
Dede however called on the security agencies to ensure the residents go back and live their normal life in the midst of harsh economic realities.
It was gathered that an attempt by the Brass Area Commander of the Nigeria Police Force, Oche Ochenika to resolve the matter on Friday failed because Odioma youths allegedly failed to turn up for the parley.