By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
There was public outrage in parts of Warri Thursday night as operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta) Warri in Delta State shot and wounded 10 Ijaw youths in an alleged accidental discharge by some personnel.
THISDAY checks revealed that the victims were relaxing in their community at Sandfill 1, directly opposite the Navy Base along Warri River, after returning from work when shots rang out from the barracks and hit them.
It was gathered that several of them were injured but that the 10 of them were seriously wounded and were rushed to Navy Hospital at Effurun near Warri for treatment by the Management of the Navy Base.
Sources at the Base told THISDAY that the personnel were loading their weapons when there were sudden discharges that went into the riverine community hitting the victims.
But another source however claimed that the Navy personnel were in shooting exercise with their gun boats at about 5.30 p.m. when the incident occurred.
It was learnt that following protests by the villagers and growing tension resulting from the incident, top officers moved into the community to allay fears of the people that the shooting was not intentional.
Sources said the officers then evacuated some victims that were fatally wounded in a Hilux jeep to the Navy hospital assuring to bear all the expenses incurred in their treatment.
Some of the victims were identified as Monigirl Okilo (F, 8years), Andrews Okilo(M, 9years), Gospel Oboko (M, 7years) Loveth Daze ( F, Married), Alice Ogbomi (F, married), Peres Ogbomi, M, married), Joseph Ogbomi, (M, Adult), Ester Ogbomi (F, married), Blessing Ogbomi (F, not married).
Commander NNS Delta, Commodore Joseph Dwunze refused to pick calls to his mobile phone nor responded to a text message on the incident but a senior officer confirmed the development.
He however denied that 10 victims were involved, maintaining that it was only five persons that were affected.
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) has condemned the incident which it saw as another attack by the military on Ijaw community.
Both the National President of IPDI, Comrade Austin Ozobo and its Spokesperson, Mayor Timi Ogobiri condemned the excuse given by the Navy saying it wasn’t the first time such would happen in the village.
Chairman of Kokodiagbene community in Gbaramatu kingdom in Warri South West Local Government area, Comrade Sheriff Mulade described the action of the Navy as provocative but pleaded with his kinsmen not to take laws into their hands.
He assured that Gbaramatu leaders were taking up the matter and assured that those behind the incident would be brought to book.
“We are handling the matter. The Navy says it was an accident but this wasn’t the first time such a thing will happen there. We will ensure there is no repeat of that incident again because we are talking about human lives here”, Mulade said.