16 August 2012

Nigeria: Explosion Rocks Ogoniland

Photo: Nations Unies
An aerial view of Ogoniland

There was pandemonium Wednesday when two out of three locally made Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) went off in the controversial Rivers State-owned banana plantation located at Soghor in Tai Local Government Area.

The explosives were said to be made up of gun powder, just as two other devices planted within the vicinity of the plantation were diffused and recovered by men of the Anti-bomb Unit of the state Police Command.

It was gathered that the blast occurred about 9am yesterday in the Ueke-Tai axis of the 2,000-hectare banana plantation, which is jointly owned by the Rivers State Government and an unnamed Mexican firm.

Soghor community in Ogoniland, has been in disagreement with the state government over the planned citing of the banana plantation in the area.

However, reports said nobody was close to the explosion area, but the devices reportedly went off where one of the employees of the farm, identified as Mathew, a tractor operator, usually works.

The Police said the device may have been planted to cause havoc and described those behind the act as hoodlums who have failed in their bid to wreck havoc on society.

Confirming the explosion to THISDAY, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Indabawa, said the explosives were locally made with gun powder with some iron in it, stating that there was no casualty.

"The blast was from locally made explosive devices that happened around 9am. It occurred within the banana plantation. There was no casualty, but two other locally made explosive devices in the vicinity of the farm will be destroyed."

"Maybe the devices were planted to injure or cause harm, but that did not work. You know that there has been some issues in that area and we are not sleeping to ensure that there is peace there," Indabawa said.

Commenting on the explosion, the Youth President of Ueke-Tai community, Mr. Nnaa Rekpana, blamed the incident on some elements from another community within the Ogoni community.

Asked whether the people were against the banana plantation, Rekpana said: "We have no reason not to be happy with the project because the state government has sorted out the issue of compensation and the farm would offer job opportunities not only to the youths in Tai or Ogoni, but people from other parts of the country.

"We will only ask the state government to mount security watch around here to ensure the protection of lives of both local and expatriate workers on the farm in order not to disrupt work on the farm. There are some bad elements that are in the habit of kidnapping and causing unnecessary chaos, they are behind this."

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