Women of Abonnema community in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State on Saturday condemned the killing of over 35 of their children during the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23.
The women, who marched round Abonnema town, warned that military personnel should not be deployed in the area in the governorship and state Assembly elections billed for March 9.
Leader of the protesters, Tonye Briggs-Oniyinde, who is a daughter to the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in the state, told journalists that as of Saturday, residents of the area were still recovering bodies.
Briggs-Oniyinde explained that the situation had thrown the entire Kalabari kingdom into mourning.
She said, “We are pained as mothers because of what the military personnel came here to do which had never happened in this community.
“Over 35 of our children died during the elections. And today, we are out to beg our chiefs to tell us the way forward because this community is not known for violence.
“We are saying soldiers should not be posted here again for the next elections; we want the chiefs to tell us the way forward.”
Addressing the grieving women, the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel, called for calm in the area, stressing that traditional rulers were putting efforts towards ensuring peace.
Bob-Manuel said, “I want to ask you and all indigenes of Abonnema and Kalabari Kingdom to be strong because what we are facing is not ordinary.
“Even during the Nigerian civil war, we were here and we did not see this kind of thing. Be strong and by the grace of God, we will overcome.”