Men in military uniform on Thursday invaded the palace of ex-militant leader and traditional ruler, Ateke Tom in Okochiri, Rivers State.It is still unclear if they were Nigerian Army soldiers.
They broke into the palace and ransacked the entire building. They also fired gunshots into certain areas in the palace grounds.
The ceiling in his bedroom was also destroyed as the soldiers searched for him and suspicious items in the palace.
Meanwhile, Ijaw youths have condemned the invasion of the Palace of the Amayanabo of Okochiri, King Ateke Tom by soldiers of the Nigerian army, describing it as an unprovoked assault on the Ijaw nation.
Speaking under the auspices of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, the youths wondered why King Ateke is being attacked as a build up to the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in the Rivers State when his domain has enjoyed relative peace even during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
This came one week after Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike accused General Officer Commanding ( GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarhem of planning to cause chaos ahead of the governorship election on Saturday.
Wike, in a chat with newsmen, said’ “Nigerians watched in utter dismay as three Local Government Electoral Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) indicted soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army for orchestrating electoral violence, snatching election materials and criminally colluding with APC leaders to concoct results during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Rather than respond to these allegations, the GOC is making diversionary allegations.
“These weighty indictments of the officers and men of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army by the INEC Officials confirm earlier intelligence that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarham is neck deep in the killings of Rivers people and manipulation of the elections.
“Mrs Mary Efeture Imawuya INEC Electoral Officer of Ikwerre LGA, INEC Electoral Officer for Emohua Local Government Area, Kenneth Etah and INEC Electoral Officer of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Leo Okon who addressed the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Centre at Elekahia were unequivocal in their indictments of the soldiers and their criminal activities during the elections.
“The major problem they should defend is the INEC Officers who declared that the soldiers of the Nigerian Army abducted them , carted away materials and concocted results”, he added.
The governor noted that it was the soldiers and the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who abducted the the Electoral Officer of Ikwerre LGA and compelled her to write results.