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When i visited Elechi Beach waterside on Monday 16th July, 2012. To cover the fire incidence in the slum in which the people accused the government and soldiers, i met a people dejected and frustrated. The people, men, women and children were all approaching me to vent their spleen. They all want to be heard, but i was only able to have a detailed interview with a young man who seemed to be a respected youth leader in the area. He is Opirite Glad Tom-Karibo.

In this explosive interview, he vents his spleen which represented the opinion of a majority in the slum as they all nodded in agreement or shouted ” Na true talk”. Let me not bore you with too many of me. Read the full interview unedited.


OPIRITE: You be Journalist?

No. I am a blogger. We are just like Journalist.

OPIRITE: I dey ask because i want to talk my mind.

What was responsible for the fire?
My name os Opirite Glad Tom-Karibo. I am a native of Kalabari. I am from Bakana, Degema Local Government area. Three days ago, certain boys, group of boys come to rob with machete and gun. But they don’t shoot, before God and man. They carry machete come dey rob, dey machete people dey collect their money, their property. We the youth in this area volunteer our self and dice 3 of the boys and hand them over to government. As i am talking to you, some of the boys are in SARS if i am not mistake. After this, the following morning, Amaechi and some of government men come and view the area and the next thing say they will come and burn this area. As we were sleeping, around 3 o’clock we started hear knocking, because the boys they threaten us say they will come and hunt for us. So some of say we go stand as security to save our people life. So at the end of the time, around 3, after 3 naa, we hear the knock and they started bouncing people door, you know. I escape. When i escape, i go jam one officer with one star, their JTF them combine force. The man say  make i no move, say if i move, im go fire me. I say why? He said what makes me to run? I say for the safety of my life because those boys that came to rob, I am the very person that call the Police people to come and pick them. We are the people that dice them and some escape. We are still hunting for some of the boys that they never catch wey we recognize. So at the end of the time, the officer said, what am i doing? I say i am a skilled worker, engineer. Im say which course? I said carpentry, building. He said okay.
Emmm him come ask  next neighbour and the man told him that this man is an engineer, a professional.
( interruption from a listener)
BOY 1: (shouting) There is no joy, there is no joy!
OPIRIRTE: wait naa! Them go hear two things?
BOY 1: Talk your own, i go talk my own.
OPIRITE: At the end of the time, he said i should get up from the ground and enter house and i enter neighbourhood house. After i entered they come raid people. People escape. The people that escape cross river. Army troop come, started putting fire for people property. We are the people that off the fire before fire service come.

  So you are saying that it is the Army that set the place on fire?
Mmmmm! It is the Army people that put the fire. I don’t believe in juju. I believe in God. I am a full member of Cherubim and Saraphim, i worship the true God, you dey hear me? It’s Army people that light this fire, not civilian, not candle, not anything.
BOY1: There is no joy, tell them, we are not happy. Speak broken English. No be to dey speak big big English. What do they want from us? Wetin them want from us?
OPIRITE: Go to the waterside, you will see people property, see engine, see people property. Them want make we comot, and we vote Amaechi to come and deliver us but he want to eh, make us to eh suffer. That is the way he want us to be and let God judge him. If he did the right thing, let God judge him. That is what i will say.

As i was passing by, i heard some people talking about diesel causing the fire.
mmmmm as we are, some people that are living around. Here, some are business men, some are selling diesel, some are selling rice, some are selling garri, you know human thing. Not everybody will eh, some people have gotten their certificate but they do not have job. This is the opportunity to save their life. To relieve their tribulation. Through this business, some people have build many buildings, many mansions that you will not expect. As i am talking to you, i have build many buildings for so many of them. I suppose go where i dey do my building work.

Do they buy the diesel from the government. And they are not doing anything illegal that will warrant (interrupts)
Oga this is our right. aa think we have refinery? What are we benefiting from the refinery? Are the refinery working? Say the truth as a Journalist. Is it working working? If you know, the refinery is it working?
Me: No
OPIRITE: this diesel is our brothers, me and you brothers. What is your name?
Me: Ogaga
OPIRITE: Or-ga-ga
Me: Okay Loveday
OPIRITE: Loveday how much?
Me: (Laughing)
OPIRITE: Loveday how much?
Me: (still laughing)
OPIRITE: loveday what?
Me: Loveday Ogaga
OPIRITE: Loveday Orgaga. Ehen Loveday Ogaga this diesel, it is me and you brothers that cook it with black oil, then convert the pot. People that work for refinery have the knowledge open this local refinery. Through this local refineries, some boys that don’t have job, started job. As i am talking to you, for a day, some of the boys get

So it is a source of employment, providing income to the people.
mmm as i am telling you, this business is reaching Abuja till today. Because some people are coming with their trucks. Some of them are buying 50 trucks, some hundred trucks going to North, South, West and East. All over the world. As i am talking to you, some are using their vessel, they come and load to outside country eh. So we can’t call it illegal because it is our resource. Go to the ocean and see. Have you reached the ocean? Go to Bonny and see. Have you seen Bonny sea?
Go to the ocean, you will see ship coming in, coming out. What are they looking for? They come to load our gas and oil eh, but somebody will use biro sign. You will hear a man have a trillion, a billion, a this, who are those people? They are the government people. Na we direct them to be the government but they, we are not achieving anything. Look at this land, it’s not sand filling. We cut mud with our hand and fill this land eh, to help people to come and live but today we vote Amaechi as an Ikwerre man, he wants to tell us that this land belongs to them, to come and oppress, to come and suffer us.
We vote him to come and punish us. Is that not so?

So how were you able to put off the fire? And was there any casualty?
We use local sense and off it. Go there, you will see some plantain leaves. We cut the plantain leaves and throw inside the fire. Before the fire service come sef, we don off the fire eh.
So the fire service helped in putting off the fire?
As them come ei, we don put off the fire ei. As them ON their thing, we tell them to go back because we don off the fire.

Was there any loss of life?
No lost of life but so many property. So many people property loss.
So if you want to measure the amount of property lost in terms of money, how much would you say had been lost in the fire?
As for me, for me to protect people property, they go and bounce my house and take my 500 000 Naira for the project that i am controlling for the amount of 500 000 Naira. As i am talking to you, lets go to my house and you would see they scatter my house , my property
Has any representative of the government visited?
No representative from the Governor. No person from the government.

So how do you people cope in the waterside. Like in the case of emergency, how can the fire service have access to this place the way the houses are?
Already you have seen it naa, we share our self to demarcate the fire so that it don’t cross the next building. That is how we determine ourself. Some of us we get injury for the protection of our people property.

(pointing to people passing by with luggage on their head) have you seen what people are carrying on? Is the property that people carryout from their house. Move up their, you will see people property. That is that. That is that.

If you are to meet the Governor today, that is if he comes here, what would you tell him?
If he comes, we will ask him a question that we vote him., the masses vote him, not only Ikwerre people and him family vote him. mmmm the masses in Rivers State vote mmmm. Some people from the North come and vote him in Rivers State here to be our Governor, but now at the end of the time, he betrayed us. This is betraying naa. Intimidating, oppressing.

So if he comes today, what would you tell him to do? What would you want the Government to do for the people?
He can’t do anything for the people because the election, he promise what he is going to do. Look at our road, hold up we don’t have road. If you pass some traffic for road, you will see pot of hole, water standing. Put your motor, your motor will quench there. You live your motor, bring people to push it out of the water to the mechanic. Do you have motor? Have you not experience it? So don’t ask me that. Already he has said what he will do and he has not. Instead of him to help people, he make the people suffer, so we say thank you. Let the God of above judge him.
Oga if we follow am, if we follow am, if we follow am enn, as you come here, you no go fit come
BOY2: That one na true talk. Make im leave us. Wetin we want na make him leave us.
OPIRITE: Make him go Bundu, make him go Ogbunabali which is Ikwerre property. But they just want to come were strangers are living. We are visitors, according to him. An Ikwerre man is not a fisherman, he is a farmer. Who are the fishermen? We the Kalabaris. The riverine people.Do you understand me? We are the people that found this land. My father is a landlord. He is a late. He is late.

How about those people they arrested?

I don’t know. Maybe they will go and suffer them. Nothing else they will do. They will kill some. There is no evidence to prove rather they will put one allegation for their head. Do you understand? mmmm that is that because our government they don’t look for right. They they will use cash to cover the right.

Ogaga Onokwakpor

One Comment

  1. is good to no,all this issues specially wat lead to the fire,

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