Sadness has enveloped Nonwa community in Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State following the senseless killing of a pregnant woman by Nigerian soldiers who were under the command of Nigeria’s Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi.
Foreign observers, domestic and civil society organisation who covered the March 19 legislative elections in Rivers State held a press conference on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at Juanita Hotel in Port Harcourt. At the briefing, attended by The Trent, a damning report was presented which outlined the key issues surrounding the preparations, conduct, and the outbreak of violence and irregularities during the tension-soaked polls.
The report indicted Nigerian soldiers in the killing of the pregnant woman. The observers also highlighted other instances in which soldiers, under Amaechi’s orders, perpetuated election violence and killings in Rivers State. “A pregnant woman was killed in Tai LGA by soldiers attached to a politician,” the report, obtained by The Trent, says.
Our investigations have revealed the pregnant woman’s identity to be Mrs. N’baby Nzugha, a 36-year-old mother of four.
How The Tragedy Unfolded
On the morning of the legislative rerun election in Rivers, Saturday, March 19, 2016, men of the Nigerian Army acting on the orders of a chieftain of the All Progressives Party (APC) and also a former governor of the state, Amaechi attempted to snatch election materials in Nonwo as part of the plot to rig the legislative elections in favour of his party.
The soldiers were met with stiff resistance by the people of Tai who challenged the illegal action of the troops. To intimidate and scare away the resilient voters, the army shot sporadically in the air with reckless abandon.
Mrs. Nzugha, who was on her way to her polling unit to exercise her constitutionally guaranteed right as a citizen of Nigeria to choose her legislative representative, caught one of the bullets shot by soldiers and died.
The confusion which followed the shooting death of the woman led to INEC cancelling the elections in the Tai LGA. Tai is one of eight LGAs where elections did not hold in Rivers.
The Trent‘s investigative reporter has obtained an exclusive photo of the victim from a family source. It was total gloom in the Nzugha compound in Nonwo when our reporter visited. The victim was described as a peace loving woman who always minded her own business.
“Baby, was a gentle soul, a gentle soul.Why?! Why?!”, a relative who gave his name as Johnson told our reporter as he pointed in the direction of the place where Mrs. Nzugha’s corpse was laid. Members of her family declined to speak with our reporter because of fear of reprisals from Amaechi and the Nigerian Army.
The communique by the election observers was issued by the group of election observers made up of the West African Network of Election Observers, Justice and Equity Organisation, Civil Society Network, National Association of State Legislators, African Initiative For Sustainable And Positive Development, and Restoration for Truth and Rights Initiative. Some of the leaders of the organisations who spoke at the press briefing were, Herbert General Lordmator, Mr B. Bafunsho, Emma Nweke, Chief Adolphus and WANEO co-ordinator for Rivers, Ambassador C. Onutemeka.