•Says they have recorded countless number of death occasioned by the incident
•People now sleep in the open — Community
•Okowa, FG, Relief Agencies have abandoned us — Wilson Arerebo, community leader
When the peace loving people of Okosugbene community, a sleepy town in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta state, woke up that fateful morning of 24th November 2016, little did they know that luck had a negative gift in stock for them.
That gift was later at midday delivered by the cold hands of the blood tasty Nigerian Armed Forces, who came under the guise of hunting for the Niger Delta Avengers, and carried out an incessant bombardment of the once egalitarian community.
And by the time they completed their inhuman assignment, they left in their trail, sorrow, tears and blood as the community recorded scores of death during and after the unwarranted attack.
A countless number of villagers which included children, the elderly men, and women, while they scampered for safety sustained different degrees of injuries.
Pregnant women remained the worst hit of this needless attack as they were traumatized leading to some having miscarriages.
But one year after, GbaramatuVoice on a visit to the community as part of its social responsibility role, saw a community that is now a shadow of itself and equally met with a people that have passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
While conducting GbaramatuVoice round the once busy but now deserted community, Mr. Wilson Arerebo, Chairman, Okosugbene community explained that it has been a harrowing experience for the people as they have passed through excruciating pains occasioned by the attack.
He pointed to an open space that was filled with housing structures but were later leveled by the ugly occurrence as orchestrated by the military during the bombardment.
When asked what has become the fate of the former landlords, Arerebo, again responded in this manner; “Some have fled the town while others are now squatting in the makeshift apartments (pointing at one).” See pictures taken by our Photojournalist.
He then added that majority of the people now sleep in the open as they have no place to call their home any longer.
On the effort of government, both the federal and state to have them resettled, Arerebo, again painted a picture of neglect, abandonment, and of a government without a human face.
He also narrated how the incident took away their means of livelihood and disrupted their socio-economic lives. He added that most of the people that were formally rich have now turned beggars as a result of this mindless attack on the community by the Nigerian Armed Forces.
In his words, “We are predominantly into fishing but the attack destroyed all our fishing equipment such as speedboats and other fishing materials thereby turning some of us to beggars.”
He further told GbaramatuVoice that for the past one year, they have written series of letters to the state government, the federal government and other interventionist groups such as the National Relief Agency, all without any useful response.
He stressed that the community massively voted for Senator Ifeanyi Okowa in 2015 election but now he has completely abandoned them.
Going philosophical, Arerebo concluded that for Okosugbene community, their help shall come from God as things have fallen apart. But he quickly reminded the state governor that 2019 is around the corner when he will again come for their votes.
Speaking in the same vein, the Secretary, Okosugbene community, Blessing Inikorogha told GbaramatuVoice that he is yet to fathom why the community was destroyed in the first instance as they were known to be peace loving and not in anyway associated or harbored any member of the Avengers group.
Continuing, he lamented the deliberate decision by the government at both state and federal levels to abandon the community to their fate.
Wilson Arerebo had earlier told our reporter that the community has been in existence since 1825 without government presence, wondering why the same government that failed to provide for them has also decided to destroy the ones they were able to achieve through self-help.