Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The military has again moved into Peremabiri, a volatile coastal town in Southern Ijaw , Bayelsa State, after intelligence reports showed that militants were regrouping in the area.
THISDAY learnt yesterday that several suspected criminals have already been apprehended during the raid, including those loyal to a dreaded ex-militant leader who was becoming a defacto political leader in Peremabiri.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Major Abubakar Abdullahi, was not immediately reachable, but it was gathered that the security agents entered the town to restore normalcy following several reports that residents had started living in fear as a result of the activities of the hoodlums.
Overjoyed residents of the area yesterday commended the operation, lauding the federal government for â€œcoming to free them from the hands of the notorious criminal gang that has been terrorising their community.â€
Ex-militant leader, Paul Eris, popularly known as General Ogunboss, hails from the community which has had several running battles with security agents operating in the state.
The indigenes under the aegis of Peremabiri Development Association (PDA) in a communique issued after its emergency meeting in Yenagoa, said the gang had attempted to foist its own leadership on the community.
The communique signed by Chairman of PDA, â€ŽChief Awolowo Wasiri; Secretary, Chief Profit Enoch and Publicity Secretary, Alfred Ikiomoye Olotu, the community leadership thanked the government for arresting some of the brigands â€Žand called on the security agencies to go after the fleeing criminals.
The PDA stated that the women who staged a protest on Wednesday because of the intervention by the military did so in fear because they were threatened by a certain notorious militant leader in the area.
â€œWe are in support of the routine operation which took place in our community. Our joy is full because we have been living in bondage for so long. This has affected our lives as we live in fear everyday.
â€œThe intervention has brought some peace in our community as we now move freely. We are excited because if not for the action of the military, they would have imposed an unpopular man as our paramount ruler.
â€œWe have confidence in the federal government and so we appeal to them to go after the rest members of the gang to ensure that they never return to our community. Those women who protested did so because they were forced and not out of any loyalty,â€ the community leaders said.
Over 300 indigenes of the community were displaced nearly two years after they were forced to relocate from the area, following widespread violence during the last governorship election, returned just last month.
The crisis in the volatile community led to the shooting of the then paramount ruler, Progress Never-Die, who was lucky to have survived after he was flown abroad for treatment.