At least, five suspects are alleged to have been arrested by the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the early hours of Wednesday in connection with the dastardly killing of 12 policemen and have since been handed over to the Bayelsa State Police Command for interrogations.
Although the police in the state are yet to confirm the number of arrests and to establish whether the suspects are directly involved in the conspiracy and killing of the policemen, they were said to have been apprehended where they were relaxing in their homes.
‘’After interrogations, we shall be able to determine whether they are part of the criminal gang that killed the policemen,” said a security man who took part in the arrest.
Speaking yesterday at a news conference in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Kingsley Omire, said that the command was making progress in the investigation of the killing of 12 of its men in Azuzuama waterways in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state last Saturday.
Omire explained that everything was being done to bring the killers of the policemen to book, adding, “we are doing a lot on the case and our actions will show that we are working and at the appropriate time, we will inform the public on the progress.
“It will be premature and prejudicial to comment on the number of arrests so far made; at the moment, it is not in our strategic interest to make further comments.”
But a top security agent in the state, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed to The Tide in Yenagoa, that one of the suspects hails from Azuzuama community, while others are from other parts of Bayelsa and Delta States.
The source added that security agencies had intensified their search to track down more suspects linked with the killing of the policemen.
Omire, however, said that the search by security agents for the killers of the 12 policemen last Saturday has yielded positive results, adding that the search team last Tuesday recovered 10 bodies of the slain officers.
He confirmed that the decomposing bodies of 10 out of the 12 slain police men have been deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
Meanwhile, The Tide learnt yesterday that one of the remaining policemen still missing has been released by the militants, and is now reunited with his family in Bayelsa State.
The 31-year old Lucky Edobie, who hails from Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state, is said to have served the police for seven years.
He was said to be among the 15 police escorts detailed to provide security protection to the team of officials on the burial tour to Azuzuama in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, when the militants attacked their boat last Saturday.
Sources told The Tide in Yenagoa yesterday, that Lucky Edobie was released last Wednesday by the militants, who had taken him captive to their camp in the creeks for interrogation, after the attack, even as he was reeling in a pool of blood, following bullet wounds he sustained from the exchange of gunfire between the police and the attackers.
Reliable security sources said that Lucky was released to the police high command in the state, along with two other expatriates initially held hostage, after a ransom of N1million had been paid.
It was gathered that Lucky was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, where he was treated of injuries sustained from bullet wounds, and discharged, yesterday.
Our source said that Lucky met three expatriates at the camp of the militants in the creeks, saying that one of the expatriates, apparently from Greece, was still being held by the militants.
Brother of the released police officer, Victor Edobie, who confirmed Lucky’s re-union with his family in an interview, thanked God for saving the life of his brother.
When contacted, Bayelsa State Police Public Relations Officer, Alex Akhigbe, declined to comment on the release and any further details therefrom, but added that he would get back to our correspondent.
Akhigbe, however, did not get back to us as at press time.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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