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This Day (Lagos)
1 October 2007
By Ahamefula Ogbu
Port Harcourt

Palpable tension has enveloped Ikata and Ochigba communities in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State following the killing of a youth, Azhioluka Herbert Aloni (25), and the wounding of several others by the Joint Task Force (JTF) allegedly called in by Nestoil Nigeria Limited working on pipelines in the area.

However, Spokesman of the JTF, Major Musa, said the soldiers shot in self defence when they were surrounded and outnumbered by the youths of the two communities while on escort duty for the repairs of pipelines by Nestoil on behalf of Shell.
Trouble started on Friday when some youths of the area on the instruction of their paramount rulers, blocked the road leading to their area which they said is a community road they contributed to build.

They claimed that since Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) awarded the contract for replacement of old and weak pipelines running through their communities to Abua, Nestoil had been using heavy duty equipment on it which has rendered the road impassable.

According to Chief Abel Obasi, paramount ruler of Ochigba, it was after several emissaries to Nestoil to repair the road without any result that they gathered their youths and asked them to block the road with a view to eliciting dialogue from the company but to their surprise, they allegedly called in soldiers who shot at, killed and wounded several others.

“I lay the blame on Shell which hired Nestoil. I was beaten and taken hostage and only released on Saturday, they killed our son and wounded several people. The boy did not do anything, he was standing by me when the soldiers numbering over 40 came and without provocation, shot the boy and started beating others,” he said.

Chief Chukwuemeka Takala, the paramount ruler of Ikata, said the community had sent several emissaries to the oil company who is yet to do anything on the matter, adding that rather than make the road passable, the company brought huge stones and poured in the holes which worsened the state.

When they called their youths to block the road to ensure that the oil company repaired what it spoilt, he said they called in soldiers to beat and lock them up.

Asked what the JTF said their offences were at Bonny camp where they were detained overnight, he said, “the soldiers said we were militants, but we came out to the road without even a machete but they claimed that they heard a gun shot inside the bush and shot the boy and refused anyone to come to his help until he died from loss of blood and the wound.”

The youths carried placards proclaiming that they were not militants but a peaceful community protesting the damage on their road by the oil company.

The father of the slain boy, 84-year-old Herbert Aloni, amidst tears called for justice because the person who killed his son, a Major, was known.

“What can I do? I am old and weak. I am poor. I cannot fight since I don’t want money. What I want is justice. The Governor of our state and the Federal Government should ensure that my son is not just killed like that. He was at home when the Chief called him to come and block the road. When the soldiers came he ran away but was called back by the chief, now they have killed him. He did not provoke anybody, so I want Justice,” he cried.

Musa admitted that they arrested Chief Chukwuemeka Takala, Chief Abel Ogbasi and Emenika Princewill and questioned them for inciting the youths against the oil companies which fall under the priority of the Federal Government which they have to protect.

He insisted that even if the communities were to insist on the repairs of he damaged roads, they would have been more civil in their action instead of attempting to disarm soldiers on escort duty.

All calls and text messages sent to the phones of Managing Director of Nestoil, Mr. Ernest Okoli, were neither answered nor the text replied as they were alleged to be the ones that called in the soldiers that did the shooting.

Meanwhile, the body of Aloni has been deposited at Samazhi mortuary, Udebu while some of the people wounded have been moved to undisclosed hospitals as their conditions became more critical. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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