From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Another fire razed about 300 houses in Ijawkiri, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Friday. Ijawkiri is one of the host communities of the disputed Soku Gas Plant in Oluasiri kingdom. There is, however, suspicion that the fire was triggered by arsonists, who wanted to instigate trouble in the area because of the disputed oil well.
A security source said some unidentified persons overran the community on a speedboat and set the neighbourhood ablaze. According to him, some persons arrived on a speedboat when people were sleeping and set the community ablaze.
After completing their mission, they took off. He said there are fears that the incident could lead to reprisal attacks as tension is already building up between the Kalabari kingdom in Rivers State and Nembe in Bayelsa State, two communities laying claim to the oil well.
Chairman of Oil and Gas in Nembe, Chief Nengi James, confirmed that over 300 persons were displaced by the fire. “Their major occupation is fishing. The fire destroyed properties worth millions of naira. There is confusion in the community. We don’t know who set the community on fire because the incident happened suddenly,” he said. Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Fidelis Odunna, confirmed the incident, saying the police had deployed operatives in the area to forestall breakdown of law and order.