Residents of Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru local government area of Rivers State have been leaving the town in droves following the alleged killing of three soldiers by people suspected to be cultists.
A source in the community said the soldiers were killed when they raided the site of an illegal local petroleum refinery operated by cultists. He said the fleeing residents were trying to avoid possible reprisal attack from the army.
A video clip taken of the residents leaving the town is going viral as they crossed the bridge leading out of the town on foot and motorcycles.
But the king of the town, Amayanabo Disraeli Bob-Manuel has appealed to the people to return with a promise that they would be safe.
Abonnema was the scene of political killings during the last presidential and National Assembly elections. An army lieutenant was killed by some political thugs while the army had responded with the killing of 15 youths of the town. Since then the town had been besieged by soldiers, who have declared a number of indigenes wanted in connection with the killing of the army officer.
Elections are due again on Saturday for governorship and House of Assembly seats. And there is apprehension in the land.