Suspected Vandals Invade Bayelsa Speaker’s Community, Kill One, Raze Houses

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Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Some angry youths suspected to be pipeline vandals yesterday invaded Korokorosei Community, is the village of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Kombowei Benson,  in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, killing one and injuring others.

It was learnt that the attackers were riled by the arrest of three of their members by a combined team of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for breaching pipelines and stealing oil.

They were, however said to have suspected that the residents of the community, acting as informants, gave intelligence reports to the security forces, leading to their arrest.

The rounding up of some members of the group reportedly followed the December, 2016 attack on the Ogbienbiri-Tebidaba trunk line operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in the area.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said information on the invasion was still sketchy, but during the retaliatory attack, the hoodlums were said to have shot dead a youth identified as Erelayefa, who engaged them.
Also,  two school pupils from the community Primary School, were said to have been critically wounded, leading to the shutting down of the school, while some residents are currently taking refuge in the mangroves.

It was further gathered that the home of the Coordinator of the Oil and Gas Task Force and three other residents of the community were set ablaze over their involvement in the arrest of their colleagues.

The suspected oil thieves have reportedly been on the wanted list of the security agencies over the December attack on the Agip pipeline, prompting the security agents to visit the village in search of the suspects.

A source said: “The security agents met with the elders, youths and women of the community on Monday to inform them of the reason for their repeated visits and urged them to assist in apprehending the suspects.

“Most of indigenes in the community, including the youth leaders, agreed and promised to assist because of the community’s safety and reputation. The bad boys came again and started beating up most of those suspected to have been working with security agents.
“On Wednesday, the boys invaded the town again and started shooting. One of the angry  youths was provoked and engaged them. He was shot dead. Two school pupils sustained gunshots on the leg and on the neck,” he said.

A member of the Oil and Gas Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their houses were destroyed for working closely with the security agencies, noting that the military has promised to arrest the culprits.

“Three of the suspected vandals have been arrested. Two suspects are with the NSCDC and one is in the custody of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF).”

Lt Col. Olaolu Daudu, the Coordinator of the Joint Media Campaign Centre (JMCC) of the JTF in the Niger Delta, did not pick his calls.