Suspected agitators kill four marine policemen in Rivers
Suspected agitators have killed four marine policemen and seized their boat in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Council of Rivers State. The policemen were on routine patrol on Sunday when the gunmen struck.
Agitators were linked to the attacks on Monday when the body of one of the officers was recovered at sea. The body had several gunshot wounds. The bodies of the three other policemen were also recovered at sea yesterday.
The incident comes amid ongoing crackdown on agitators by the Nigerian army.
Sources said the police personnel, aboard a gunboat, were attacked shortly after they left Abonnema jetty. Another police gunboat that left the jetty alongside the ill-fated one has since returned to base.
As at press time, the whereabouts of the gunboat in which the slain policemen had been remained unknown.
Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Francis Odesanyo, and Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Omoni Nnamdi, could not be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, the bodies of three of the four soldiers who drowned in a boat mishap on Monday along the Bayelsa waterways have been recovered.
The men had been members of the Operation Crocodile Smile, the Nigerian army’s offensive against agitators in the Niger Delta.
The bodies were recovered by a team of soldiers and local divers from Okpoama community in Brass Local Council.
While two bodies were recovered on Monday evening amid strong currents, another was discovered yesterday morning, far from the scene of the incident.
Reacting to the tragedy, Bayelsa State chairman of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Lloyd Sese, blamed poor logistics and use of low-powered engine boats by military personnel.
In another development, Defence Headquarters in a statement, yesterday, warned: “No group or individual has the right to threaten or force residents in any part of Nigeria to abandon their homes in obeisance to certain group’s selfish and devilish interest.”
It alerted the public to a rise in the number of groups leading agitations in the Niger Delta, “the latest being the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM) that claimed responsibility for blowing up NNPC’s oil pipeline few days ago. The same group has come out again, demanding that residents living near oil and gas infrastructure vacate their homes, to avoid being caught in its next attacks.”
It warned that the Armed Forces would not tolerate any form of criminality, stressing that ongoing military exercise in the region demonstrates the strength of troops to weed out criminals and economic saboteurs.