Nembe Massacre: Will Police Ever Arrest the Culprits?

Seriake Dickson


James Oputin

Major killings in the two off seasons gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi started on November 16, 2016 in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Wednesday, three days before the election. An armed militia group invaded the King Koko Square at Nembe Ogbolomabiri and opened fire on hundreds of PDP supporters who had assembled there for the last Local Government campaign of the PDP Candidate, Douye Diri. While the gun wielding militia was mowing down innocent citizens who were in Nembe for the campaigns, another set of the hoodlums ambushed the party members and journalists at the Ogbolomabiri/ Bassambiri junction. The OB van driver of Radio Bayelsa, Mr. Simon Onu, was shot dead beside his van. A police inspector, Achibugu Odagi, who was deployed from Asaba, Delta State, on election duty, died of gunshot attacks during the gruesome premeditated massacre. Several of his colleagues were lucky to have escaped with different degrees of gunshot wounds.

 Sadly, many party supporters who went with the campaign train to Nembe and did not know the area were trapped in the bush. There are troubling reports coming out of Nembe that several people were killed with their stomachs ripped open and thrown into the Brass River to sink forever. A day to the election, medical personnel were battling to save the lives of 109 persons who sustained gunshot injuries at the Federal Medical Centre, and the Bayelsa State Specialist Hospital, Yenagoa

 Immediately after the attack, Diri, who narrowly escaped addressed a press conference where he gave some insight into the masterminds of the attack and their reasons for it

 “Before we got into Nembe for the last lapse of our campaigns, we had conflicting information and intelligence that one Gabriel Jonah who is the head of a group called ‘Otita Force’ warned that the PDP cannot campaign in Nembe and that Nembe is an APC community and they would not allow the PDP campaign in the area. We are told and informed that all the killings were allegedly carried out by the Otita Force.”

 It is shocking to note that these killings which many have described as a massacre took place three days to the gubernatorial election in the state. Prior to the Nembe mayhem, the national newspapers were replete with reports that politicians were procuring arms to unleash violence on the innocent voting populace during the election.

 Ordinarily, one would have expected the security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission to address the state and indeed take immediate preemptive steps in the interest of the innocent voters who are the unfortunate hapless victims of violence. Unfortunately, the security agencies did not find it necessary to review the pre-election violence in Nembe to reinforce security across the state and create conducive environment for competitive voting.

 A sensitive electoral commission, guided by the tenets of impartiality and which is not in collusion with compromised security agencies on a mission to rig the election would have called a meeting to reassess the security situation in  Nembe following the unprovoked massacre of innocent PDP members barely three days to the election.

 Many Bayelsans found it shocking that INEC ignored the grisly images of the massacre of innocent people in the mainstream media and the social media to conduct a charade called election and even produced concocted figures to justify the infamy called election on November 16, 2019 in Bayelsa.

 The horror and the gory spectacle of the bloodied injured was such that all men of good conscience would have expected INEC to take steps in the direction of voters protection. This is expected because the gun wielding youths who carried out the most devastating assault on the electoral process executed a second phase of the violence. The armed militia moved from house to house in search of members of the PDP to attack most of who fled the town. This was glaringly the case of the riot of an organized armed minority against majority of law abiding citizens who were armed with their permanent voter cards.  Many, including some educated, have said that the attack and sacking of PDP members from Nembe was made possible because the attackers and their supporters were more! What a weak argument! I would have expected the so called majority to have mocked the minority with the strength of their votes in line with the age long ethos of democratic governance! Rather, a strategy not good enough even for an animal was adopted. The prospective voters were killed, and others chased away from the community for the most reckless rigging in election recorded in Bayelsa! Like the plight of a virgin raped viciously by a violent alcoholic, democracy is desperately in need of the native hot bath to rectify badly severed veins in private places! What a pity! This is the Bayelsa situation!

 What makes Bayelsa situation even more pathetic is the deliberate steps to describe what happened as an election despite the incontrovertible video evidence of electoral fraud and the mind boggling descent into criminality. Those who carried out the brutal siege on democracy in Bayelsa are battling to foist an aura of legitimacy on the anathema they have called an election.

 It is on this basis that I find it necessary to call on Nigerians to rise in defence of the sacred place of the ballot in a democracy. The story line that while election was marred by violence in Kogi State, voting took place in Bayelsa is the most immoral attempt to create a marriage for contradictions. It is a wicked attempt to overstretch the boundary of immorality! This is worse than an image of our revered Pope presiding over a marriage of two men!

It is reassuring to hear that following the directive of the President that the bloodthirsty counterparts of the Bayelsa killer gang in Kogi who murdered the PDP Ward Women Leader be fished out, the police has arrested six persons. 

Even the United Nations has condemned the reprehensible killings in Kogi. However, it is troubling that a similar directive has not been issued to the security agencies to apprehend the Nembe murderers!

Nigerians are still waiting or that moment of relief when President would give a specific directive to the security agencies to arrest and prosecute those who killed the OB Van Driver of Radio Bayelsa, Mr. Onu, the riot Police Inspector, Achibugu Odagi, and several people whose stomachs were ripped open and thrown into the Brass River an estuary of the River Nun to sink forever. 

 The police authorities have not arrested anybody for this massacre and the slaughter of the innocent in the guise of election. Going by the circumstances will the security agencies ever arrest anybody for this multiple murders?

 On Wednesday, a shocked Bayelsa State Government empaneled a body to investigate the murder of Bayelsans and other Nigerian citizens on the eve of the election.

 While paid agents are battling to splash legitimacy on the fraud and savagery called election in Bayelsa, the fact remains that democracy as represented by the Bayelsa election is nothing different from a putrid concert of married women all dancing stark naked in the market square!

James Oputin, Secretary General PDP Youth Network writes from Tungbo, Sagbama, Bayelsa State.