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It has been revealed how soldiers were forced to abandon their mission to allegedly hijack ballot boxes during the March 9 Governorship/House of Assembly elections when a leader of the protesting women of Ogu/Bolo communities in Rivers State, out of desperation, sprinkled blood from her drenched menstrual pad on military patrol vehicles and by some mystical interference, the engines refused to kick.

The protesting women leader and Vice Chair, Ogu/Bolo local government area, Barrister Christiana Tamunoberetonari, confirmed she took off her heavily- soaked menstrual pad, squeezed the blood all over Army patrol vehicles and the drivers could not start the vehicles. It was mysterious.

Tamunoberetonari, had to pour a bottle of dry gin on the military vehicles and prayed or rather uttered incantations before they started. Following the strange incident, soldiers left, aborting their mission to cart away ballot materials. Ocasio-Cortez is an Amercian politician and activist noted for her social media presence and described by Time Magazine as “second most talked about politician in America.”

She and other women activists shared their experiences at a one-day seminar on “Mobilizing and Raising Women’s Voices against Election Violence,” in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, sponsored by the Foundation for Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta, PIND, and European Union, EU, facilitated by Academic Associates PeaceWorks. The boldness of the heroic women from Okrika, Ogu/Bolo, Abonnema and others, who took non-violent measures to stop soldiers and police to some level from tampering with votes cast by the electorate and preserve ballot materials, necessitated the event.

How G5 mobilized women for action

Barrister Tamunoberetonari, vice chair of Ogu/Bolo local government, who was the cynosure of all eyes at the workshop, said, “When it comes to expression of female power in our community, it is not narrowed to the very young like us. We have various groups meeting regularly to strengthen women role in moving our community forward.” “Then we have this friends’ circle, the Gallant Five, G5, which advocates unifying force around other groups. When challenged by communal violence, the Obolorebi, a body of women, who have attained menopause, comes to the rescue with inherent powers to avert looming violence. We belong to different political parties, but we agreed that the overriding interest during elections was the peace of our community, peace of the local government and the state at large.

“On the day of the Presidential Elections, we already heard what was happening very early in Abonnema. We knew there was danger ahead of us and the Obolorebi mobilized for action. We ruled that after voting, no female leaves her unit. You must stay-put, insist they count votes and winner declared in your unit. “So after voting, we heard some soldiers were coming in their numbers at the prompting of one political party to hijack the results. We ran to the local government collation center. A woman that we had been alerted about came, brought the army, but they were unable to invade the collation center. Successfully, they collated results. For the results to get to the main collation center at Elekohia and INEC, we reasoned they could intercept the men in transit and hijack the results. “We (women) went in more than four vehicles escorted the results to Elekohia, first with results for the senatorial, and to INEC to drop that of the Presidential and House of Representatives, that in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

However, we heard they took away results for Okrika, our mother local government area away. “We bled in our heart and communicated to the women in Okrika to emulate what we did to ensure affliction did not arise the second time. We are glad they listened and the outcome was in the affirmative. “Coming to the governorship and state assembly elections, we had to build more on the precedence we had set. Some women in other localities said they would not come out with what has happened, but we told ourselves in Ogu/Bolo, every woman must come because the hijackers would do more than they did in the Presidential election if we do not come out to vote and protect it.

“We immediately alerted the G5. We gathered rest of the girls. We said our efforts for the last four days must not be in vain. Then, we started the chant, ‘we no go gree oo, we no go gree.’ When those held hostage inside heard the chant, they were encouraged. “The Army came up with reinforcement, one made to run over the human barricade we had created to bar them from entering the collation center. We stood our ground, daring him to run us over. “Another came down, removed branches of trees we used as part barricade to start flogging us. We stayed defiant. Bemused and tired, one came to me to ask what we wanted. We said they must not go into the collation center. Interestingly, some among the soldiers were whispering to us not to allow them have their way. Not all of them liked the oppressive order whoever had instructed them to come, wanted them carry out. ‘Our intentions are evil’, one had murmured to me behind their superior’s back.

“Throughout that day till Sunday morning, we were there, singing, chanting ‘we no go gree’. It got to a climax, we chorused remove your clothes. Every woman in the protest started stripping, some were even removing their bras. We were yelling at the soldiers. “You came out from here, your children, father, mother, came out from here, hitting at our sensitive area. They started covering their faces, unable to behold our nudity.

I called on God to intervene while removing my menstrual pad “Some were still daring to come in; I had to remove my menstrual pad. I was under the monthly sickness at the time. I removed the pad, raised it up to God, calling for His intervention as I sprinkle the dripping blood on their patrol vans. Suddenly they were willing to go, but the cars suddenly failed to kick. I told them today you would know that what a woman has in her is more powerful than your guns and vehicles. “I reached for a bottle of gin around us and started sprinkling on their vehicles spots I had earlier splashed my menstrual flow. The vehicles kicked. They started wondering, what sort of women were these?

One of them called me; please give me your number. I will try to marry from this wonderful community. In the process, I saved his number on my phone, which now also stands as an incontrovertible evidence of the military invasion. “Now to the trending video scene; this particularly agitated soldier tries scaling the fence to jump in for the materials. We saw and immediately mobbed him. One of the G5 was recording him and screaming he is an army. He wants to jump inside. Therefore, we were dragging and pulling him down. Some held to his scrotum, he got weak and gave up even with a broken leg.

“That is the power of a woman. What I am saying? You are a woman; do not see yourself as a weakling. The next day, Sunday, families were cooking food and bringing to the protesting women voluntarily. We are heroines of our local government,” she said.


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