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Killing of 12 policemen in Bayelsa


Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday claimed responsibility for the killing of 12 policemen along Southern-Ijaw Local Government Area Waterways in Bayelsa State last Saturday. The police faulted the claim. The force has begun a man-hunt for the killers. This is even as fear has gripped ex-militant leaders in the state over the continued wrangling of their boys regarding payment of amnesty funds.

Investigations  according to the Sun revealed that naval patrol team and that of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield, deployed in the waterways following a threat by MEND to carry out attacks in the region, have joined the police in the search of the killers. MEND said the attack it was in response to the 24-year jail a South African court handed its leader, Henry Okah, two weeks ago. But police denied that MEND carried out the attack.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Kings Omire, who has ordered investigation into the killings, vowed that the police would unravel those behind the attack even as Governor Henry Seriake Dickson described it as shocking and disheartening. The investigative panel headed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Mr Tuesday Asaymor, is expected to establish the remote and immediate causes of the killings.

Sources at the police headquarters said with Asaymor, a crack detective himself in charge of the case, confidence is high at the command that the alleged killers would be unmasked. Some of the aggrieved ex-militants were said to have complained that their funds were being deducted and that they have been sidelined in the execution of surveillance contracts awarded by the Federal Government. Sources said aside the investigation to unravel the masterminds of the attack, the immediate concern of the police leadership is to recover the bodies of the policemen and their arms.

Divers attached to the Marine Police joined by the naval and JTF troops have been in the creeks since Saturday afternoon searching for the killers and the bodies. Omire disclosed that four people including three policemen were rescued on Saturday with just one of the policemen having his rifle intact. He said the rescue team had been directed to search for the bodies and the weapons of the Policemen. The police who already have the names of the 12 policemen said by yesterday afternoon, if their bodies were not recovered their families would be informed of the unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile, ex-militant leaders are in panic over the killing of the policemen said to have been carried out by aggrieved ex-militants from the Young Shall Grow camp. A source said numerous complaints had been leveled against the ex-militants who have been fingered in the short-changing of their boys with the amnesty funds paid into the various accounts of the boys by the amnesty committee. He said most of the boys in the camps of the ex-militant leaders are aggrieved and could be used to cause confusion in the state.

Meanwhile, MEND in a statement by Jomo Gbomo, said it carried out the attack because its threat of impending attack was dismissed. Gbomo who disclosed that MEND fighters engaged government security forces in a gun battle that lasted 40 minutes, claimed that 15 policemen were gunned down, while two fighters also died. He said the attack was to demonstrate MEND’s seriousness to resume hostilities and to point out to the public to disregard the JTF’s assurance of adequate security.

The statement reads in part: “For dismissing Hurricane Exodus as an “empty threat” by the Nigerian security forces, heavily armed fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D), at about 17:00 Hrs., Saturday 06, April 2013, intercepted and engaged government security forces in a fierce gunfight lasting over forty (40) minutes at Azuzama, Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. “The clash which happened in the river left over fifteen (15) security forces dead as we also lost two (2) of our fighters in the battle. “We hope this encounter will serve as a lesson to the Joint Task Force (JTF) from making careless utterances that cannot be backed as we remain resolute in our resumption of hostilities.

“All oil companies and the public are advised to ignore the false sense of security been peddled by the JTF as well as the false comments from a “Comrade Azizi”, who claims to be in the spokesman for the group. This person is not known to MEND, does not speak for MEND and his utterances and style do not reflect our plans and actions” Also, Governor Dickson yesterday described the killings as most tragic, shocking and disheartening. The governor, who stated this in a condolence message to the Inspector- General of Police, noted with dismay that, the incident occurred under circumstances when the affected policemen were actively involved in their duty of service to the nation and humanity.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the governor noted, “that the development is a constant reminder of how vulnerable we are in our collective efforts at pursuing and achieving lasting peace and unity in our state and country.” Governor Dickson commiserated with the deceased families, noting that the victims displayed outstanding qualities in their dedication and commitment to duty as well as patriotism and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the people.

While describing their untimely demise as a great loss to the state, the police and the nation in general, the governor expressed satisfaction with their positive attributes of service, which fit into the restoration vision of Government and building partners in the new and emerging Bayelsa.

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