Residents of Elechi Beach, an inner city area of Port Harcourt, and the Rivers State capital, were still narrating their ordeal at the hands of the Joint Task Force (JTF) when even something worse befell them.
A fire suddenly, started and before they could gather their wits, hundreds were displaced and property estimated in the millions, destroyed.
But the residents of Elechi Beach, one of the areas earmarked for demolition by the Rivers State government as part of its urban renewal programme, are pointing accusing fingers at the Army personnel of deliberately torching their homes after arresting an undisclosed number of youths.
A displaced barber, Samuel Okoh, whose home was gutted by fire, told The Guardian that he and members of his family were sleeping when at about 3:10a.m.
Petrified by the fierce of commands, Okoh who assumed that the persons knocking were robbers directed his wife and son to hide under the bed, then cautiously opened the door to see several armed policemen who forced him back inside.
A woman explained that security operatives stormed her home and arrested her son and other young men for undisclosed reasons. ”The police men dragged my son and several other boys that I do not know, away in the middle of the night.”
As the fire started to spread uncontrollably, Sunday said efforts by some persons to prevent this were thwarted by the soldiers. A downcast, John Princewill, whose shop was gutted by fire, told The Guardian that the solders went to where some speedboats containing drums of diesel were berthed and torched them.