20 Policemen, Ex-militant Escape Death In Bayelsa


Twenty policemen and an ex-militant leader sailing on two gunboats narrowly escaped death yesterday when they ran into an ambush by unidentified gunmen who opened fire on them along the creeks of the Niger Delta in Peremabiri Community of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The policemen were said to have been detailed by the State Commissioner of Police, Hillary Okpara, to escort the ex-militant leader, Comrade Eris Paul, popularly known as General Ogunboss, to his community in Peremabiri when the attack occurred.

It could not be immediately confirmed if there were casualties from either side following the gun battle, but it was gathered that a bullet pierced the bulletproof vest worn by the ex-militant leader during the attack, according to a report by Thisday.

The motive of the attackers could not be substantiated as some indigenes of the community blamed the attack on some youths in resistance of the ex-militant to influence their removal from Community Development executive, Ogunboss however denied claims that he was involved in the CDC politics in the community. Others claimed the youths were former ex-militant leaders that broke away from Ogunboss leadership and ventured into the illegal businesses of bunkering and oil theft in the area, a claim Ogunboss backed up saying, “these are boys that I included their names in my amnesty list and prevailed not to go back to crime. My continual attempt to stop them from the noticeable acts of oil theft led to the attack.”

Ogunboss claimed the alleged gunmen were sponsored by the CDC leadership and some ex-militant youths. He said the approval of gunboats to him by the State Commissioner of Police led him to visit his community, “I am a man of peace and for the good deeds I have done to my community; see the way I am being paid back”, he said.

It was also gathered that the state police boss was forced to detail such large personnel on escort duties following a petition written by Paul that his properties were vandalised and destroyed by some youths in the community.

Eleven policemen were similarly killed in an ambush in the same Southern Ijaw area last year while also escorting an ex-militant leader to his country home for his mother’s burial.

The State Commissioner of Police, Okpara, while commenting on the incident, said “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.

“The people may have misunderstood our mission when the team arrived there, we saw them at the waterfront 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,” Opara said.