- Created on Sunday, 07 February 1982 12:16
- Written by Major Isaac Adaka Boro
Takeover of Oloibiri and Nembe
While the battle of Imbiama and its inevitable consequences were proceeding with agility, the South Eastern Division was also performing its assigned duties. The Division under the command of Lieutenant—Colonel Dick arrived with troops and hostages at Ayama.
Here their stoppage was brief and records from Colonel Dick’s Diary on their total activities read:
"The General Officer Commanding:
When we left the combine at Yenagoa on the 23rd February, we arrived first at Ayama. The Commander remembers the seasonal market was in progress when we took over Yenagoa. Information about our course had arrived in advance of us. At Ayama, we were received with cheers and prayers for our success. We told them the aim of our ventures, read and pasted the declaration. Time of arrival was 11 a.m. We were feted and we departed at 11.30 a.m.
The next town we called at was Ologanga where we took a creek pilot, James, as arranged. We were also most welcome and entertained before we left. Time of arrival, 7 p.m. Departure, 7.35 p.m.
We proceeded thence to Peremabiri where, as the Commander knows, there is a Niger Delta Development Board Agricultural Station. We made a swift closure of it. The objective of our venture was also explained to the people. Time of arrival 11 p.m. Departure 11.15 p.m. We also made a brief call at Seimbiri that evening. I mention this as very significant because the reception there was unique. There is one of our native shrines there, "Ekineh", you remember. After the closure of the Local Government Council, we were feted and the natives prevailed on us to worship at the shrine where they called on our gods to protect us. We left them very much encouraged about their benevolence and understanding.
Next place of call was Tereke the most popular market of the Southern Districts. There was not much to be done there. All natives were as usual very receptive. Time of arrival was 3 a.m. on the 25th February, We took a short rest of about an hour since there had been no sleep for the past two nights. Time of departure, 4.15 a.m.
"Our next destination was Abobiri where the Eastern Nigeria Agricultural Station is located. As we had the oil stations assignment well in hand, we only demanded some petrol. Lieutenant Pikoli dispatched with two men but without weapons was refused assistance so that I had to go personally with him. The attendants gave us sufficient petrol to last the journey to the oil stations.
Abobiri is just opposite the Oloibiri oil station where there is a small police post. We quickly took over and closed the two stations without firing a shot. There were no casualties.
At about 8 a.m. of the 26th February, we arrived at the Oloibiri pipe line transmitting oil to Port Harcourt. At exactly 8.29 a.m., we set a sixty seconds, thirty-five combination appliance which completely dislocated the transmission and set a sky—rocketing flame over the area.
That done, we proceeded to close the Oloibiri based institutions of the Eastern Government. First, we took over the main police station also without firing a shot. No casualties. Next was the District Council office and that of the Local Government Police. The Service declarations were made and notice pasted. The populace was co-operative. All had been pre-informed of our course. Many volunteered to enlist in the Service and we promised to sign them on on our return. At 7 a.m. of the 27th, after a reconnaissance of some of the dreary creeks, we arrived at the environs of Nembe. There, information was given to us about a Government launch with troops who were heading for Yenagoa and the upper reaches of the River Nun. We acquired the support of the natives but we declined entertainment and went in pursuit of the launch.
Because of a detour we made through some smaller creeks, our boats caught up with the launch at the Ologanga River on the northern side of its approach where we took strategic positions at the narrow recourse of the river. Unfortunately, we were sighted at a safe distance and they took precautions to avoid the torpedoes we were raining from all angles of our positions. They, therefore, escaped unharmed. We quickly returned to the boats to continue our pursuit but ill luck hampered our progress when two of the three boats had engine failure.
At this juncture, night already befalling us, we tied our three hostages to some trees so that they could have a share of the hardships and left for Ayama where we got the boats in order. Here we got information about the General’s battle at Imbiama. The shortage of equipment before aid could come was what we had feared and it was not surprising that the frontier could not be sustained for long. However, we decided to return to the Camp of Resumption as previously planned so that further plans could be executed to continue
As the General may have observed, I have omitted certain actions taken to expel some non—natives from our territory for security reasons and these will be detailed as soon as we meet."
The above briefs were contained in Lieutenant Colonel Dick’s diary and extracted from the "Secret Diaries of the Niger Delta Volunteer Service." It could be observed that, although equipment was our main difficulty, objective and morale are the essential ingredients for emancipation.
The affairs did not end there, but before we examine other aspects of the struggle let us turn to the activities of the Western Division under the Command of Colonel Samuel Owonaru.
Colonel Samuel Owonaru’s Diary reads:
"To the General Officer Commanding the Niger Delta Volunteer Service: Code X = X + / 77."
“We arrived at the Shell Company oil station at 11 p.m. 23rd February, 1966, opposite Odi after trekking the five mile jungle distance with little difficulties. Though it was almost midnight, the installation staff were at work. I ordered positions to be taken and asked the occupants of the station to surrender. Perhaps not understanding our grievances, the expatriate staff tried to organise a resistance which was immediately foiled as a result of their awkward movement. There was a little bit of rough handling with the ultimate consequence of the torpedo of an oil tanker which set the river ablaze. Thereafter, there was immediate understanding.
The declarations and proclamations were read and handed over to the expatriate manager who was instructed to relay it to other Shell Company stations. Work there came effectively to a close at 11.45 a.m. The expatriate staff of three left by a lone helicopter while the Nigerian staff escaped from the site. After operations at the site, four boats were captured and several drums of fuel were at our disposal. Two boats were taken by the Riverine Patrol under Lieutenant Dokiri who immediately proceeded with his patrolmen on scouting duties.
Sir, I had sent an advance party to Odi, on the other side of the River Nun to close the schools. After the activities on the oil site, I advanced with three blasters to the Ughelli-Port Harcourt Pipeline and destroyed a twenty yard length of it with a thirty—five combination grenade after finding a twenty-two composite ineffective. There was a consuming fire and we were happy; things were working according to plan. We joined the Division who were putting finishing touches to the site and thence advanced on Odi. To my utmost surprise, the natives instigated by N.C.N.C. stalwarts, became so hostile to the advance party I dispatched that there was almost a feud. I quickly asked the men to take positions round the crowd of nearly three thousand people.
I hushed them and read the documents in the Ijaw language to them. I warned that any saboteurs on our self-determination would bear the consequence of their action and that the division would destroy the town in five minutes if the disturbances continued. There was absolute quiet and later the crowd dispersed. I still ordered the use of the 2-4 simple combinations to show the destructive effects of the grenades and ensure lasting peace.
Later, I left the town under the control of the Riverine Patrol. The Western Division thus advanced on Abari where there is an oil exploration site at the upper reaches of the Forcados River. Since messages of the take-over had been dispatched to other exploratory stations by the telecommunication section of the Shell B.P., the Abari station was already closed down before our arrival.
However, I posted a group from the division while we advanced on Patani. A closure of the schools was made at Ikpidiama, the small town between Abari and Patani. Patani being a large town with a police station, I ordered my men to land the DVS boats at the north, south and central positions. The central landing which I organised was directly opposite the police station while convergence on the centre was made by the north and southern units. We took over the police station in no time after using minimal decimal tonnage grenades causing very little damage.
There was a police corporal on duty as the desk sergeant. The small police unit there was disbanded and the take-over of the town was completed in less than twenty minutes. The necessary proclamations and declarations were made. There was great co-operation from the natives. Time was seriously against us as we were expected to take position at Gbekebo by the evening of the 25th February.
We contacted the patrol section to keep watch around the environs of Patani while we proceeded to Sagbama on our advance to Bomadi, Gbekebo and Forcados. As we entered the boats and pushed off at about a distance of twenty yards offshore, we received light revolver and rifle firing from Patani. I instantly ordered a return and we made a second landing on the town. We shot and blasted our way through.
This resulted in our blowing up of the post and telegraph telecommunications stations. After another brief half an hour duel, all was quiet. At least there were no casualties on our side. On the evening of the 26th, we landed at Sagbama very much behind schedule. Here there was a sea plane owned by an oil company. Two expatriate officers were boarding it and we halted them. I ordered them to explain their business to know if they were flouting our proclamations. I told them I would blast the sea plane and just then a wounded expatriate, who has sustained an injury during oil exploration, was carried across the Sagbama creek to us. This seemed to explain the presence of the plane. In any case, I gave them a hundred and twenty seconds to leave our territory and also warned them that, if ever we found any of their planes, boats or operational equipment flouting our endeavours, they would be dealt with on the spot. The expatriates thanked us and zoomed off in their plane.
On the 27th of February, we received the priority message through agent 042 about the battle of Imbiama, the withdrawal of our forces after the six-hour battle, and that all DVS forces should reconverge at camps four, five and six, for further instructions and reconsolidation."
The above are also extracts from the "Secret Diaries of the Niger Delta Volunteer Service", compiled on behalf of the Western Division by Colonel Samuel Owonaru.