Saturday, 14 March 2015

Nine Injured As Police, Ex-Militants Clash In Bayelsa Yesterday

No fewer than nine persons, including a police officer were injured on Friday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, following a clash between former Niger Delta militants and policemen.

The ex-militants had staged a protest march against the state Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, alleging that the governor was planning to hijack the multi-million dollars Oil Pipeline Surveillance Contract from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company to oil-bearing communities in the state.

The protesters, including some sympathetic groups such as the physically-challenged persons, started the protest at the Tombia-Etegwe Roundabout area of the metropolis.

The shooting of teargas canisters to disperse the protesters by the policemen triggered violent confrontation between them and the protesters.

The protesters were said to have fought back by hauling stones at the police.

In the process, they vandalised the police truck and injured the driver.

The development was said to have angered the policemen, who descended on them with heavy batons and butts of their rifles.

Over nine vehicles, market and shops were vandalised during the clash.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that the police reinforcement and the intervention of some members of the Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee calmed the protesters’ frayed nerves.

Spokesman for the Bayelsa Police Command, Asinim Butswat, said one police officer was injured by the protesters.

Butswat said, “Our men were there. But as the crowd became very large, we had to reinforce.

“As a truck bringing mobile policemen was sighted, the protesters started stoning them. In the process, they injured one of the officers.

“Our men had to use teargas to disperse them. With the exception of the policeman that was injured, no other person was injured.

“Let me make it clear that the police only shot teargas canisters to disperse the protesters, but did not shoot live cartridges.”

He, however, confirmed that six of the protesters were arrested.

But an ex-militant leader, Eris Paul, popularly known as ‘General’ Ogunboss, said the ex-militants protested anti-people polices of the governor.

He said, “Governor Dickson is trying to hijack the job meant for the oil bearing communities in the state.”

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Markson-Iworiso, dismissed the ex-militants’ claim as parochial.

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