Ijaw Youths, OPC Clash In Arepo Over Pipeline, Pregnant Woman, Many Killed

Culled From Punch;

Members of the Oodua People’s Congress and some suspected pipeline vandals have clashed in Arepo, in the Obafemi Owode area of Ogun State.

It was gathered that the Wednesday clash caused pandemonium, which led to the killing of a pregnant woman, Mrs. Damilola Fajana, and another pedestrian. It was learnt that a suspected vandal had earlier been killed on Tuesday by some OPC members.

The Wednesday incident happened in the Unity Estate, around 3pm.

Punch Metro gathered that a passerby was hit by bullet in the leg and was rushed to the hospital.

When our correspondent visited the community on Thursday, he observed that all shops in the estate were locked.

The road leading to the estate was also deserted as a few motorcycle riders were seen plying the area.

Around 11am, there was panic as some women suddenly took to their heels, saying the fight had started again.

Punch Metro learnt that the clash had been on since Monday.

A resident said, “The fight has been on for some days now. It is between some Ijaw youths and OPC members that the Federal Government employed to protect pipelines.

“But yesterday (Wednesday), it took a new dimension as they faced one another in broad daylight. There was heavy exchange of gunfire.

“A pregnant woman was in a car with her husband. A bullet pierced through the windscreen and hit the woman in the neck.

“Her husband was devastated and begged people to help. The woman did not survive the gunshot. She died there. We were told she was six months pregnant.”

Another witness told our correspondent that the second victim was walking by the roadside when he was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet, which killed him.

“The man was hit in the stomach and died. Another person was hit in the leg and was rushed to a hospital,” he said.

Our correspondent learnt that the OPC members and the vandals took the battle to the premises of a primary school in the area.

A large number of people were said to have been injured during the clash.

A source told Punch Metro that earlier that day, the OPC members had combed some streets in the estate, searching for the suspected vandals.

He said, “They went to three different streets where the vandals usually sold fuel to residents. They met resistance on Ebute and Akinsanya streets. There was a serious clash on Ebute Street.

“It was after that clash that the OPC members launched a major offensive in the afternoon.”

Our correspondent gathered from another resident that the suspected vandals had sought to pacify the OPC members.

It was learnt that the wife of one of the suspected vandals had sought audience with the ethnic militiamen, but the meeting did not go well.

He said, “This fight started after the suspected vandals sent a woman to the OPC members so they could come to an agreement.

“But the OPC members refused and attacked the woman. That was how the battle line was drawn.”

It was learnt that people in the community are constantly disturbed by gunshots which start late at night into the early hours of the morning.

A woman said, “As from 3am, they would start their shooting which would continue till dawn.

“Everybody is scared. This area has always been peaceful until now. And I believe the vandals have increased their activities due to the fuel scarcity in the country.”

Punch Metro gathered that text messages and letters were being sent to residents to stay indoors as there would be more attacks.

Our correspondent was told that the information was to reduce the number of casualties.

A resident said, “I have just received a text message from my church that there will not be service today until Sunday because of the unrest.”

A community leader, Mr. Victor Olajide, condemned the actions of the OPC men, adding that the government should withdraw them from the area.

He said, “On Tuesday, they raided the home of an Ijaw woman. She is neither involved in vandalism nor an accomplice. But after ransacking her house and destroying her things, they shot one person dead there.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), a stray bullet killed a woman. These people are not educated and they don’t have the technicality to handle the kind of job they have been given. The government should train the police better to handle the job and the OPC members should be withdrawn.”

However, the OPC National Coordinator, Gani Adams, denied that OPC members fired the shots that killed the victims.

He said, “What happened was that in less than 24 hours that the police were withdrawn from the pipelines, our men intercepted about 50 jerrycans, each containing 60 litres of stolen fuel. They were loaded in three vehicles.

“We were able to arrest one of the vandals, but the second person jumped into the water and escaped.

“The fuel was taken to the NNPC depot at Mosimi.

“But the hoodlums protecting the vandals came against our men and began shooting into the community.

“In the process, two people were shot dead on Wednesday.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Ogun State Command, Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the incident.

He added that the corpse of the pregnant woman had been deposited in a morgue.

He said, “The bullet hit the pregnant woman in the neck and she died.

“We just heard that there was exchange of gunfire, so we don’t know who exactly fired the shot.”

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