6 Rape Cases Reported in Night Raids By Nigerian Military on Ogoni Community

At least six women have been reported raped by Nigerian soldiers during night raids on Bodo community in Ogoni. During the early hour of Wednesday, December 14, soldiers raided the Bodo community with an armoured tank in operation arresting residents indiscriminately and torturing those arrested.

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The victims whose identity were not immediately made public were said to have been attacked during two raids on the Bodo including on Wednesday morning. Residents reported that soldiers forcefully broke into their homes, took the men away after raping the women. There had been no official statement from the Nigerian defense ministry on the reasons for the incessant arrests and military actions in the Ogoni community but natives say it has been connected to a chieftaincy dispute which led to the dethronement of the community's former chief, John Berebon.

Our investigations revealed that villagers had protested the chief's handling of recent Shell oil spill cases in the community and expressed lack of confidence in the process. Subsequently, protests were made to the government and a town hall meeting dethroned the king and appointed a regent.

In a statement by the secretary general of MOSOP, Alex Akori, MOSOP said the organisation was less concerned about the choice of the Bodo people on who becomes their king noting that it is up to the Bodo people to decide who should be their king.

The MOSOP statement stated however that the military raids were unacceptable and strongly condemned. President of  MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke, said indigenous Ogoni communities cannot become a theatre of war for the Nigerian military. Nsuke says civil disagreements should not be the reason for any form of military crackdown on innocent dwellers.

There was palpable fear when we visited the community yesterday after a withdrawal of soldiers. It is uncertain if the situation will be allowed to stabilize especially with big oil giant, Shell, being linked to attempts to misinform the public on the failure of its equipment in the community causing five recent oil leaks.

We will continue to update you on the developments in Bodo.

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