YENAGOA- The men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) have burnt down an Ijaw ancient community, Letugbene in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State in retaliation for their men who were murdered few days ago in the area by suspected sea-thieves.
Daily Watch reliably gathered that some military personnel and civilians were gruesomely murdered on Sunday at Letugbene and Tunu rivers in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.
A source from the burnt down community confided on our reporter that the soldiers’ action may not been unconnected to their officers who were gruesomely murdred by sea bandits few days ago as retaliation.
Confirming the military invasion, a prominent Rights activist and National President of Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) Comrade Austin Ozobo told Daily Watch in a press statement, condemning the barbaric act of both group , said ‘‘ Our attention has been drawn to the killing of innocent civilians and military personnel by suspected sea bandits and the subsequent burning of harmless Letugbene community in Ekeremo Local government area ,Bayelsa State on Monday.
‘‘We learnt some military personnel and civilians were gruesomely murdered on Sunday at Letugbene and Tunu rivers and the military vented its reprisal attack on the harmless Letugbene and Bilabiri communities, resulting to burning of Letugbene community and destruction of several houses in Bilabiri in mere suspicion as result of proximity to the scene of the incident’’ he groaned.
He however, condemned in strong terms the two actions by the suspected sea bandits and the reprisal burning of sleeping innocent Letugbene community by the military.
According to him, ‘‘In as much as we condemn the barbaric killing of military and civilians by suspected bandits, we equally aver that Letugbene and Bilabiri communities are not criminal hideouts and that it is unprofessional for the military to have burnt Letugbene community.
‘‘The military came in a commando style with a sporadic shooting, causing unprecedented threat and panic on innocent indigenes in the community. We gathered some women and children are still missing in the bush up till this time as residents scamper for safety. We discovered that the vice chairman Akpozenebrapagha Namalate house was erroneously burnt down by the military at Letugbene community. Even if some persons are suspected or fingered in the community, such is not a enough reason to burn residents of innocent people of any community.
‘‘The military should exercise restrain in its operations in unraveling the suspected criminals. The military should endeavour to seperate innocent people from criminals in its operations and that attempt to punish the innocent for offence it know nothing about will only show how unprofessional Nigeria military is. Several of such barbaric killings against the military appears to be daily routine in the north but none of such communities where these incidents are happening are being burnt down.
‘‘It is our candid call that the military should stop further burning of innocent Ijaw communities in Niger Delta region if they are not a security threat in the region. We equally aver that the perpetrators should be unraveled in no distance time and that Ijaw youths should repent from things that are capable of causing disaffection in their communities. It is our appeal that arrested persons should be released and houses burnt be rebuild by relevant authorities responsible for the burning of the communities’’ he noted.