New Year celebration turned tragic in Rivers State as gunmen opened fire indiscriminately at people returning from the church in the early hours of Monday where they had gone to usher in the New Year.
The incident occurred at Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) Local Government Area of the state.
The police spokesperson in the state, Omoni Nnamdi, who confirmed the incident to newsmen, said it was difficult for the police to give the exact number of people killed in the shooting.
The rampaging gunmen were suspected to be militants working for a man the military described as “a notorious kidnapper, militant, cultist, ardent illegal oil bunkerer”, Mr. Igwedibia Johnson, aka Don Waney, who is on the run, following the raid of his camp and shrines on November 20, last year, as part of 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt’s continued efforts to rid the Niger Delta of criminals.
Crude oil and gas-rich Omoku hosts the Federal College of Education (FCE) Technical, many multinational oil firms, oil servicing companies and other establishments, but most of the commercial banks in the ancient town have been closed for months, in view of insecurity, without the hope of the bankers returning to the city.
According to a report in The Nation, an indigene of Omoku, gave details of how the 15 worshippers were gunned down but would not want his name in print, to avoid his being trailed by the criminals, said as the Christians were leaving their various churches on January 1, the gunmen were spraying them with bullets at close range.
The source said: “Since 2014, when the crisis started in Omoku and its environs, over 500, mostly innocent people, have been killed.
“I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nyesom Wike to take immediate action to secure the lives and property of residents of Omoku and its environs, especially with the forthcoming primaries of political parties and general elections.