Pensioners allege brutalisation by thugs over pension arrears in Bayelsa

GOV._HENRY_SERIAKE_DICKSONGov. Dickson’s abducted kid sister regains freedom

BAYELSA pensioners in their hundreds yesterday alleged that they were beaten up in front of Government House, Yenagoa, by thugs while protesting their five months unpaid pension arrears.

The attack left many of the senior citizens injured while one was reportedly ‘critically hospitalised’ in an undisclosed hospital in the state capital.

The Guardian correspondent, who was at the scene of the incident, was almost lynched by one of the assailants who had accosted him and queried his presence.

His Apple Ipad phone was forcefully taken and searched for photographs. But it took the intervention of a pensioner for him to escape the scene through a commercial tricycle, popularly called Keke Napep.

In another development, 70 days after, Miss Nancy Dickson, the abducted kid sister of the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, has been freed by her abductors, a Government House statement has said.

A statement issued yesterday by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said Nancy was rescued on Sunday evening from her abductors without any payment of ransom.

Iworiso-Markson, who did not however, indicate which arm of the security agencies effected her release, said the victim was freed by a combined team of security operatives.

The governor’s spokesman said: “Some of the kidnappers took to their heels while others were apprehended following a tip-off on their hideouts.

“The kidnappers were rattled and overwhelmed to forcefully surrender their kidnapped victim following intense pressure mounted by the security agencies to track down the kidnappers.”

Narrating their ordeal, the caretaker committee chairman of the state branch of The National Union of Pensioners, Elder Bodi Amarah, said they had come out peacefully to demand their pensions arrears and two-year unpaid gratuities when they were surprisingly attacked by thugs numbering up to 100.

“This morning, we only came as senior citizens to see government since all means of dialogue have failed. We came to tell him (governor) our pains but to our surprise, some hired hoodlums and cult boys came and beat us up. Look at my shirt, it is covered with blood. One of us is now seriously injured and had been rushed to the hospital.

“And many of us have injuries after we were thoroughly beaten up by boys of 15, 16 and 17 years of age. Thugs were hired in their hundreds to come and beat us up,” he alleged.

Amarah continued: “Well, we have taken the injured ones to the hospital and we are not leaving here until the governor or one of his representatives come and see us. We are not leaving this place (Government House gate). Let them come and kill us all.”

Corroborating Amarah, another senior citizen, Phillips Didi, said: “We are pensioners who had served this state and this country meritoriously for 35 years, only to be beaten up by hired thugs.”

Contacted, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Seriake Dickson, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said it was a peaceful protest by the pensioners, but said that none of them was attacked.

When further questioned, he promised to investigate the matter.

Iworiso-Markson, who quoted Governor Dickson as calling on the people of the state not to succumb to the demand of ransom made by kidnappers, said the governor had assured the people that plans were under way to amend the Bayelsa State Secret Cult, Kidnapping and Other Related Offences Prohibition Bill 2012 to proscribe payment of ransom in the state.

He said: “The governor has stressed that the bill, when passed into law, would go a long way in putting a stop to the incidence of kidnapping in the state.”

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