The New Year celebration turned tragic in Rivers State as gunmen opened fire indiscriminately at people returning from the church in the early hours of Monday where they had gone to usher in the New Year.
The incident occurred at Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA) Local Government Area of the state.
The police spokesperson in the state, Omoni Nnamdi, who confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES, said it was difficult for the police to give the exact number of people killed in the shooting.
“We can only confirm the incident, but we can’t confirm the number of casualties. We are still working on that because some people were taken to the hospital and some of them are recuperating,” said Mr Nnamdi, a deputy superintendent of police.
The police said normalcy has returned to the area and that they would let the public know the number of casualties after an investigation.
However, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, who is an indigene of the state, said that 21 people were killed in the incident.
Mr Peterside, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, blamed the incident on the fight for supremacy among rival cult groups in the area.
Mr Peterside said that cultism and cult-related killing thrived in the area because of the backing from powerful politicians.
“My heart goes to the people of ONELGA and the immediate families of the deceased. This is an act that must be condemned. The good people of Omoku have suffered enough and this has dealt a further blow on their sufferings,” he said, adding that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, lacked the capacity to tackle the state’s security challenge.