Some unknown gunmen on Friday night killed two policemen on guard duty at Udeme Hotel along Alamieyeseigha Way, Opolo, in Yenagoa and made away with their rifles.
An eyewitness said the assailants took the policemen unawares in commando fashion and shot sporadically in the air for about 30 minutes to scare residents who scampered for safety.
The motive for the attack is still unclear although there had been such attacks on policemen in state in the past and their service rifles carted away. Many believe that is how group assemble armoury before launching a new militant group.
As at the time of filing this report, the Bayelsa State Police Command is yet to make a statement on the incident.
Narrating the incident, the eyewitness said “they turned at the car park, drove towards the gate where they opened fire on the policemen.”
The hotel is owned by Emmanuel Paulker representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District at the Upper House of the National Assembly.
Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Asinim Butswat, who confirmed the incident said in a statement, “On 15 March, 2019, at about 2100 hours, unknown gunmen operating in a Toyota Camry car, registration number unknown, went to a hotel at Opolo, Yenagoa and without provocation opened fire at the two policemen on duty.
“The policemen fired back at the armed robbers and in the ensuing gun battle, one sergeant was fatally wounded. He was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, where he was later confirmed dead. The other policeman is responding to treatment.
“The unknown gunmen escaped with bullet wounds. Based on a tip off, a notorious criminal hideout was raided, where their cohorts were arrested and they have volunteered useful information. Efforts have been intensified to arrest the gunmen.”
Three weeks ago, on the eve of the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, some gunmen attacked a police checkpoint at Julius Berger Junction in similar fashion and carted away two rifles.
…. Meanwhile, a governorship aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Keniebi Okoko, has stressed the need for exposure to the right education to develop the mental abilities of Bayelsans.
Okoko who spoke to journalists in Yenagoa said if the Ijaw man is given the right playing ground, he would perform optimally while calling for focus on education to turn the fortune of the state around.
He noted that mental poverty was worse than financial poverty and that a mind that was not well equipped could not give what it did not have.
In his words: “Well, I believe that Bayelsa as a whole needs to focus on education. Mental poverty is worse than financial poverty. If a mind is not developed and equipped, a man cannot give what he does not have. Our people are not completely exposed to good education systems. Our people are not well traveled like other tribes. The Ijaw man is a determined man to succeed, if you give the Ijaw man the right playing ground, he will perform, I can assure you. So I believe that what we should do as a people is to focus on education.”
An economist, Okoko maintained that the emphasis should not be restricted to formal education, but should include skills acquisition for the less privileged who may not afford tertiary education.
“Classroom education is one aspect, and outside classroom education is another aspect. Not everybody can experience education in the classroom or to the university level. There is a proverbial saying that all fingers are not equal. But you can balance the gap of the fingers. Creating skill acquisitions with the right personnel to man them gives you the opportunity to train the less privileged on the skills that can develop them”, he stated.
He commended the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson-led Restoration Government for the investment it has made in the educational sector and called for more of such efforts in the sector.
“I think the governor has given it a good try. I think that the intentions are good. I believe that he has genuine intentions for the job, and I believe he has tried his best. My duty as a leader is to try and add to what he has done, to build in any way we can help the government to improve where they have stopped in any capacity we find ourselves with good suggestions, and trying to develop a good road map to drive the Ministry of Education to push his policies forward and help him being that I am in the same party with him.”
He urged Bayelsa youth to have role models they look up to inspire success by taking them through processes of training and mentoring saying he has three people he looked up to.
Okoko condemned the use of the military during the 2015 general elections saying that “in every democratic nation, the military man at any point in time is not supposed to be seen by any civilian. His duty post is in the barracks, combat ready to defend the sovereignty of the nation, combat ready to defend the borders of his nation with integrity. The duty of the military is to uphold the dignity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have not seen it in any civilised democratic nation where you deploy the military out for elections. I have not seen.
“Venezuela that is in a problem now, it is rare to see the military trooping out except in extreme situations that the police cannot handle. Venezuela is 10 million times worse than Nigeria now. Their currency has zero value, they have no food and they have to cross to Columbia to get food, but there I still don’t see the military coming out in full force, you can see pockets of them but more of the police.
“The police is trained to have interaction with the civilians. The police is trained to combat and quell unrest. The military is trained to kill. The military is trained to destroy any adversary of a nation, so who are they going to destroy during the elections. That’s the question I ask everybody-via your training, what’s your training coming to do on the streets? Are we at war here?
“There is no war in Port Harcourt, there is no war in Bayelsa, but there is war in Sambisa Forest. I would rather they deploy those soldiers to the Sambisa Forest so that our soldiers can deal with the Boko Haram once and for all because the Nigerian soldiers have the capacity and capability to do that. I rest my case here.”