One killed as rival youth groups clash in Bayelsa

Nigerian Police on patrol
Nigerian Police on patrol

At least one person was killed when youth who support different political parties clashed in Bayelsa State on Sunday.

The violent clash was between two factions of youth of Okpoama community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. One faction was said to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the other to the All Progressive Grand Alliance APGA.

Many others were injured in the violence.

It was gathered that the deceased, Iruo Ayebatonyo, was the Public Relations Officer of Okpoama Kingdom Youth Movement.

Mr. Ayebatonyo was reportedly shot at close range in the neck and died shortly after arriving at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri for medical attention.

Former Governor Timipre Sylva and the member representing Brass Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Belemote Watson, hail from Okpoama.

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It was learnt that a faction of the youth that arrived the community at about 8.00 p.m. on Sunday, was attacked at the waterside and they reportedly returned fire.

Sources said the exchange of gunfire between the factions led to injuries and pandemonium in the community.

The sources said that while the 25-year-old late spokesman was shot, many others sustained varying degrees of injuries, some fatal.

The police public relations officer, Bayelsa State Command, Asinim Butswat, said he was yet to be ”properly briefed on the incident.”

He added that he was in ”consultation with the Commissioner of Police over the incident.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Watson in a reaction to the development condemned the incident.

He decried the killing and maiming of peaceful youth of Okpoama by suspected thugs and mercenaries in the name of youth election.

Mr. Watson called on the king, the council of chiefs, security agencies, the youth leadership and the Action Committee of Okpoama to fish out the perpetrators of the crime.

“The peace of Okpoama Kingdom is sacrosanct and we cannot afford to live in fear in our communities. We cannot be taken hostage by suspected thugs and mercenaries,” he said.

In his reaction, the caretaker chairman of the Brass LGA, Victor Isaiah, ordered the immediate suspension of the youth executive election in the area.

“I received with total dismay the unfortunate news of violence and public unrest in Okpoama in events preceding the youth executive election scheduled to hold on Monday.

“I have directed for an immediate suspension of the election process until further notice. My expedient decision is as a result of the rising tensions and already violent atmosphere characterising the youth elections with a view to averting a palpable intra-communal crisis in the Kingdom.

“Following confidential security reports I received from Okpoama a fortnight ago, and after independently investigating and analysing the indicators, I duly consulted some principal actors involved in organisation of the election.

“I also alerted relevant security agencies to keep an eye on events in order to forestall any untoward development leading to the youth election.

“However, with the sad development recorded on Sunday, I have resolved to set up a committee to mediate in the entire process and bring about a lasting peace in Okpoama kingdom.

In his reaction to the incident, former Governor Sylva called for peace.

Mr. Sylva in a statement by his Media Adviser, Doifie Buokoribo, deplored the violence, describing it as ”unwarranted, unfortunate and strange to the hitherto peaceful people.”

“He (Sylva) condoles with the family of the dead and prays for the quick recovery of the injured. He wonders at the level of desperation that would make some youth to spill blood, the blood of their fellow youth, in order to control the kingdom’s youth body.”

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