In what appears to be an admission that indeed, 12 policemen were killed in Bayelsa State over the weekend, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, has ordered a manhunt for their killers.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had claimed responsibility for the murder of the policemen, saying that its fighters had ambushed the boat the policemen were travelling in at Azuzama, Southern Ijaw Local Government of Nigeria.
The militant group said the deaths were to serve as a lesson to security agencies for scorning their warning, after they announced last week that they would resume hostilities in the oil-rich region by Friday to avenge the alleged collaboration between the Federal Government and the Government of South Africa in jailing its former leader, Henry Okah.
However, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Kingsley Omire, had denied that the policemen had been killed by MEND, saying that they were only missing and being searched for intensely.
He also attributed the cause of the fate of the policemen to the dispute between government and ex-militants on amnesty payments.
However, the Police IG, after a meeting of the Police Management Team at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, ordered that the killers be brought to justice as this was the best post-humous honour that could be accorded to the fallen policemen.
Speaking through the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, Abubakar said the police would go to any length to make sure the killers are brought to book.
He described the latest killing as a sad reminder of the danger faced by policemen while on national duty, noting that the country was passing through its most challenging period.
The IG stated that following the frequent attacks on his officers, the Force had devised a new standard of operations aimed at reducing fatalities and attacks on them.
Abubakar said, “The death of the 12 police officers on legitimate national assignment is sad, unfortunate and the police will stop at nothing to ensure that the killers are brought to book as soon as possible.
“The time is tough and the race against crime is tight, but with support from all Nigerians and all tiers of government, police and other security agencies will restore national security soon.”
Last month, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, ChinweikeAsadu, was shot dead while visiting his family in Enugu.