Grief and fear enveloped the Bayelsa state Police Command at the weekend as 13 policemen were killed along the waterways of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state. Ex-militants in the State that felt shortchanged in the amnesty programme, allegedly killed the policemen.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr Kings Omire who stated this, shortly after briefing Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, said the ex-militants that carried out the attack were former members of the Young Shall Grow camp and they were angry over their unpaid allowances.
Omire said an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Tuesday Asayamon, has been appointed to lead a committee set up by the state command to launch a full scale investigation into the incident. He said also that three policemen and the boat driver have been rescued by the police divers sent to the area to recover the bodies and arms of the policemen.
Omire explained that those missing included two Inspectors, four non- commissioned officers and six constables. The policemen drawn from the security pool of the Bayelsa State Government House and the state Police Command were on a special duty to Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw local government area where an aide to the state governor, Mr Kile Selky Torughedi, was burying his mother, when they were ambushed. Mr Torughedi alias Young Shall Grow, was the South wing Commander of MEND at the peak of the militant group’s agitation in the Niger Delta region.
He was recently appointed a Senior Special Adviser to Governor Henry Seriake Dickson on Marine Waterways Security, as part of the State government’s efforts to curb the spate of pirate attacks in the riverine area of the state. Checks indicated that 15 policemen were in the boat providing escort to dignitaries attending the burial when their boat suddenly developed a fault and while they were trying to fix it, a speedboat conveying some armed men opened fire killing 13 of them on the spot while the other two jumped into the river.
The armed men were said to have gone away with some of the rifles of the dead policemen. The drivers of the other boats coming behind were said to have turned back and alerted patrol teams of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield on the attack. Eyewitness account stated that the gunmen escaped into the creeks on sighting the JTF patrol teams. On receipt of the report on the attack, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Kings Omire, immediately deployed policemen to the waterways to recover the bodies of their felled colleagues and fish out the killers. Sources at the Police headquarters said Omire also presided over a meeting yesterday afternoon where strategies were mapped out to apprehend those behind the attack.
The Public Relations Officer of the command, Mr Alex Akhigbe, said the command was still collating the details of what happened. Sources in Azuzuama community said Torughedi had been having a running battle with some ex-militants who accused him of abandoning them after embracing the Federal Government’s amnesty.
It was gathered that some ex-militants had warned Torughedi not to attend the burial but he insisted that he would be there having secured police escort. The security situation in Bayelsa waters had deteriorated recently with sea-pirates and illegal oil bunkerers having a field day. The Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) shut down their flow stations recently following growing insecurity concerns.