Tribute To The Redoubtable Ogu Amazons. Amb S.M.K. Taribo
The Ogu women, under the inspirational leadership of Barr. Christianah Tamunoberetonari, Vice Chairman of Ogu/Bolo LGA, manifested the patriotic heroism implied in the foregoing quotation.
In the evening of Saturday March 9, they assembled spontaneously, and under a nonpartisan impulse or platform, to protect the mandate of the electorate as freely, peacefully and orderly expressed through the ballot papers at the just concluded Rivers State Gubernatorial and House of Assembly Elections.
They did so because a contingent of armed soldiers had invaded Ogu, Head quarters of the LGA, for the predictable purpose of hijacking the ballot materials to a destination outside the the legitimate one with a view to corrupting the results.
By then, the materials had all been gathered from the various polling units/wards, and conveyed to the LGA Secretariat for collation by the pertinent INEC officials accompanied by all the accredited agents of the contesting political parties.
In attendance were also independent observers. The unexpected arrival of the soldiers and the coercive exhibition of their illicit design triggered the instinctive mobilization of the womenfolk. They besieged the Secretariat to the end of preventing the uniformed invaders from gaining unauthorised access to both the materials and their custodians.
Unarmed, warily dressed and courteously behaved, the wailing Amazons confronted the armed intruders, chanting comic songs in vernacular and pidgeon English, pleading with the soldiers to either abandon their demonic mission or slaughter them! A video of the scene has since gone viral! It captures a soldier trying to scale the perimeter fence of the Secretariat to seize the ballot documents!
The protestation turned into a vigil that lasted from 6pm on Saturday to the afternoon of the following Sunday. It held hostage not only the armed encroachers and the demonstrating women but the chairman of the LGA, the INEC personnel, the party monitors and agents, but some Ogu luminaries who acted as mediators. The assorted barricades and road blocks which the protesters efficiently mounted at strategic spots, hindered the entry into, and from, the vicinity of the historic encounter.
It remains the dispensation of God’s singular Grace that the confrontation ended bloodlessly even as the Guardian Spirit of Ogu radiated the virtues of caution, meekness and forbearance among the embattled trespassers. It should be recalled in this regard that earlier on, in the night of Wed.6th March, a horde of soldiers had invaded the community for the ostensible purpose of arresting youth activists of the PDP, the homes of some faithful were raided with the aid of pointers. This resulted in the abduction of two young men, namely: Nathan Opeks Iruenabere and Gift Jeremiah, and their cynical detention at Bori Cantonment, Port Harcourt. This repulsive incident occurred at the admitted behest of a rival candidate for election to the Rivers State Legislature.
This was the pregnant atmosphere that impelled the chiefs to personally undertakIa town- crying tour round the community on Friday, 8th March after the Amanyanabo-in-Council meeting. During the tour, they warned the populace against perpetration of violence,be it provocative or retaliatory, in the course of the imminent election. They further cautioned against collusion with external elements to sabotage the regular and tranquil conduct of the exercise. They sternly reminded the citizens of the DIVINE CURSE contained in their COVENANT WITH GOD by the OATH they swear annually and publicly.
They finally re-invoked its imprecation on any violator! It is against this complex background that the exceptional heroism of the Ogu Amazons should be appreciatively applauded. By their impulsive and pacific action, they vigilantly defended, advanced and edified the honour, legendary prowess, values, integrity, prestige and indomitable will of the Ogu, aka, “the ashes of our fathers and temples of our gods”! They should be celebrated as HEROINES, and their names grafted in the Kingdom’s Pantheon!
Equally deserving our admiration and eulogy are the agile and resilient youths: they very wisely and tactfully watched from the sides like concerned spectators; they exercised the necessary restraint and discipline in the face of vexatious intrusion! This extraordinary attitude has saved the community from the premeditated and preplanned ransacking and desolation of our renown “ fast developing home by the raiders to the sadistic delight of the schemers!
As for the misguided Ogu traitors and quislings that facilitated the unwarranted invasions in confederacy with frustrated and hostile outsiders, aimed at wreaking havoc on our collective psyche, comfort and peaceable existence, let them hasten to repent and beg God for pardon , lest they incur the retributive justice that is prescribed in our annual Covenant with God!
Chief Amb. Taribo-Amgbara, a retired Diplomat is a war-canoe chief of Ogu Kingdom.