By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A policeman and no fewer than three other persons have been killed in separate incidents in Yenagoa and Otuesega in Ogbia, Bayelsa State, following clashes between rival cult groups.
The Bayelsa State Police Command said it could not immediately release the name of the deceased cop to the public until all official procedures were completed.
THISDAY learnt that the policeman ran into some rampaging cultists at the Tombia area of the state capital, angered by the reported arrest of one of their leaders, a member of the Icelanders cult group.
The policeman was shot while the unit patrol vehicle he was in was caught in a traffic jam and he came down to help with the heavy traffic, it was gathered.
The cultists, who had already halted commercial activities in the area, reportedly killed the policeman suspecting that he was attached to a police team deployed to quell the crisis.
The new Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Ebere Onyeagoro, confirmed the killing of the police personnel during the cultists’ show of force, vowing that all those involved would be brought to book.
“The command regrettably lost one of its men on his way to duty. That is one of the hazards of the job. We are doing our best to make sure such incidents do not reoccur. It is essentially as a result of cult activities. It was unfortunate that the officer ran into them and lost his life to that encounter,” the commissioner said.
He identified cultism, armed robbery, rape, indecent assaults, chieftaincy tussles, communal disputes as some of the most rampant security issues in the state and promised to face them headlong.
Onyeagoro said he was working on establishing a functional security framework that will assist the command in identifying leaders and members of cult groups to reduce the menace in the state.
On the incident at Otuesega, it was gathered that two rival cult groups also engaged in a supremacy battle, leaving behind some collateral damage.
In the ensuing crisis, two cult members were said to have been killed, while a man said to be from the northern part of the country was hit by a stray bullet during the confrontation.
The victim was said to have died instantly after being hit by the stray bullet during the encounter.
Meanwhile, a coalition of Ijaw youth groups have taken to the streets of Yenagoa in protest against cultism, piracy, kidnapping, drug abuse and other violent crimes in the state.
The march, which started from the popular Tombia roundabout, ended at the Gabriel Okara cultural centre, where the convener, Mr. Bodmas Kemepadei, urged the youths to eschew such social vices.
“Youths that are dying everyday are Ijaw people and it is against our norms for an Ijaw man to kill a fellow Ijaw man.
“So, we say no to these evil vices constituting a menace in our communities. We are calling on our brothers to give peace a chance, if there is unrest then there can be no development.
“We are also asking our brothers in the creeks to put an end to the consistent attacks on passengers and market boats, kidnapping and pipeline vandalism. We need peace in Ijaw nation if we must attract investors,” he said.