Gunboat shoot-out reported in Bayelsa community

Nigeria Police Officers
FILE PHOTO: Nigeria Police Officers

The shootout was allegedly spear-headed by an ex-militant.

Arodiegwu Eziukwu

Anxiety and tension enveloped Peremabiri Community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in the early hours of Saturday as youth from the area resisted a gunboat attack allegedly launched by ex-militant leader, Monday Paul, aka Ogun Boss.

Though casualty figures remained unclear, a headcount of the youth reportedly indicated that two people were missing.

The conflict is believed to be between the ex-militant and the community’s development committee.

Some sources at the Bayelsa Police command said that the ex-militant leader had asked the Bayelsa Police Commissioner to release three police gunboats and escorts – supposedly to provide him with security for a burial. However, members of the community insisted that there was no burial in the area.

The Bayelsa police command recently lost 11 officers to attacks by suspected ex-militants in the state.

A source in the community explained that the police gunboat approached the coastal community at about midnight and commenced shooting to scare residents. The three gunboats allegedly fired at the community from the creeks for more than 30 minutes. However rather than scare the residents who were woken up by the sound of the gunfire, youth quickly mobilised and put up resistance.

The situation was reportedly brought under control by a Naval unit stationed at an oil installation within the community

The Bayelsa Police Command has, however, denied the involvement of its gunboats in the shoot-out.

Reacting to the incident, the Bayelsa Police Commissioner, Hilary Opara, said in an interview on Saturday that the police was in the community to maintain peace.

“It is untrue that police attacked the community. How can we be attacking the people we are paid to protect? We were notified that there was a fight in the community and we deployed men to the area,” he said.

“The people may have misunderstood our mission when the team arrived there, we saw them at the water front there and we asked our men to come back to avoid confrontation. We went there to maintain the peace and not to fight anyone, and I have asked my DPO in the area to bring all the factions to my office on Monday so that we can further explore the opportunity of brokering peace,” he added.

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