There was uproar Friday in Bayelsa state over the killing of a six months old baby, her mother and two others by armed soldiers during a security operation at the Oluasiri clan in Nembe local government area of the state.
The incident, which occurred in the early hours of Thursday, according to the Oluasiri community, claimed one Mr. Wilson Patason, Madam Beauty Christian Gamage and her six months old baby. Many others were also confirmed to be on a critical list with various level of injuries.
Though the authorities of the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Delta Safe (ODS) have not responded to media inquiries and phone calls to Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, the security operation was launched to dislodge the suspected militants and sea pirates hiding in the community.
While some security personnel claimed the soldiers opened fire into the community following gun shot attacks from the suspected militants, the indigenes of the Oluasiri community debunked the claim and insisted that the military attack was unprovoked.
A community source, told leadership that though some suspected sea pirates and militants had forcefully been residing within the community, “the armed militants were residing in the community forcefully. The Armed militants had become lawless and this may have caused the security Operations. ”
“But as you know, these boys also pay some military men and may have been tipped off by some of their military friends. The had left left the community before soldiers arrived. The Soldiers arrived in six gun boats and started shooting indiscriminately. It is sad and unprofessional. ”
The Oluasiri community in a statement described as “reckless and nefarious” the wanton invasion of Ben-Ama and Tengele-Ama by the Nigerian Military, which reportedly left four persons dead including a mother and her six months old baby and several others critically injured.
The Oluasiri community, in a statement jointly signed by the President of Oluasiri Development Union, Deacon Gamage Difurotogu, and the President of Oluasiri Youth Federation, Kienworio Tanga, the people of Oluasiri called on the Federal Government and Civil Liberty Organisations (CLO) to carry out an investigation in order to unravel the mysteries behind the ugly incident.
According to the community,”the incident is show of stark recklessness and nefarious for the military to invade hitherto peaceful communities with six gunboats, causing undue pandemonium, all in the name of searching for suspected criminals in the area.
“the people of the affected communities are law-abiding citizens, noting that it was malicious for security agents to carry out the act. We urged the Nigerian military to go and search for the criminals at their various hideouts in the creeks, as no Oluasiri community is a safe haven to criminals.”
They stated categorically that the people of Oluasiri are always ready to support the Nigerian military and other security agencies in the fight against oil bunkering, sea piracy and kidnapping, but pleaded that such should be done in complete adherence to international best practices, while upholding the sanctity of human life.
The statement further commiserated with families of the affected victims, while enjoining the people of Oluasiri not to take laws into their hands.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) through its Bayelsa Chapter Chairman, Chief Nengi James condemned the military invasion describing it as barbaric and unprofessional.
According to Nengi James, “the unprofessional killing of innocent people in Oluasiri and some other communities of the Niger Delta, is unacceptable. It is an act against humanity. The Federal Government should immediately set up an investigative team to look into the incident. ”
“And the Military should, instead of reckless killing, adopt intelligence gathering mode and determine if those being sought are actually in the community. Now that they have killed innocent people, did they arrest the suspected criminals? ”
Also reacting, the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) worldwide, through its President, Barr. Eric Omare condemned the invasion as dastardly act by the military in the guise of looking for suspected criminals.
The IYC called on the military authorities to comply with the rules of engagement in their operations in the Niger Delta.
According to IYC, “It is only in the Niger Delta that soldiers routinely kill innocent people in the name of looking for criminals. attention of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide has just been drawn to the invasion of Ben-Ama and Tengele-Ama Communities in Oluasiri Clan, Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State by soldiers in the early hours of Thursday June 7, 2018.”
“The information available to the IYC is to the effect that among others; a woman and her daughter were killed in the process of the invasion and several others injured. The soldiers were alleged to be after suspected criminals in the communities.”
“The IYC calls on the military authorities to comply with the rules of engagement in their operations in the Niger Delta. It is only in the Niger Delta that soldiers routinely kill innocent people in the name of looking for criminals. This is condemnable and unacceptable.”
” It is illegal and unconstitutional for the life of anybody to be taken without the due process of law. This is one killing too many in Ijaw land and must stop.”
“The IYC call on President Buhari who is the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces of the federal Republic of Nigeria and the Minister of Defence to take all necessary actions to immediately bring to the justice the military officers involved in this act of criminality.”
“We wish to warn that the consistent invasion and killing of innocent Niger Deltans is capable of leading to another round of hostilities in the Niger Delta region. The youths of the Niger Delta region would not sit back and allow their communities to be recklessly invaded and people killed like animals.”