Exclusive interviews by SaharaReporters with residents of the Oporoza community in Delta State have detailed the invasion of their community by the military and the chronic human rights violations against them.
Oporoza locals explained to SaharaReporters how soldiers looted their community, raped women, and have been intimidating residents for months with impunity. SaharaReporters has learned that many of the soldiers are not attached to a specific unit of the military, but it is investigation the matter further.
One woman, interviewed by SaharaReporters, detailed how soldiers stole her food and money that was needed so she could provide for her family.
An elderly man, who was also interviewed, stated that he was physically abused by two soldiers who approached his home one afternoon.
“They hit my face with the butt of a gun and then I fell to the ground,” the man said through an English-speaking translator.
A young woman told our correspondent how troops invaded her home and raped her. She explained how she was in pain from the rape and needed to have drugs purchased to ease it.
Another local stated in his interview that his younger sister was killed by soldiers and that her body continues to be in the military’s possession in the mortuary. He also showed our correspondent a picture of a young girl from Oporoza who was killed by troops.
The man explained that soldiers have been invading the community for months, allegedly searching for Niger Delta militants.
“For some months now, there has been a military invasion in Oporoza almost on a weekly basis,” he said. “Citizens cannot go about their normal business.”
When asked if any members of the Niger Delta Avengers live in his community, the man said that he has never seen any, and he was less concerned with them because they are not the ones invading Oporoza.
“I don’t know who is called ‘Avengers’…but we know that there are some dissatisfactions in the Niger Delta, but we don't have people called ‘Avengers’ invade us. We don't know them. They don't live in this community.”
He said that the constant military presence has created an environment of fear throughout the community.
“We wake up, we sleep with our two eyes open…we don't know when somebody will knock, grab you and say you are an Avenger and take you to the armed men,” he said.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the military would deal with the Niger Delta Avengers in the same manner in which they have been dealing with Boko Haram, which has resulted in an increased military presence in the region.
SaharaReporters published a series of investigative reports in 2015 of the 19th Battalion, stationed in Delta State, who was responsible for murdering a vigilante leader Benson Ogedegbe and conspiring with criminal elements to terrorize locals in Ethiope West Local Government Area (LGA).