By Emma Arubi
WARRIâ€”At least one person was confirmed dead and several others injured when suspected armed Ijaw youths attacked an Ugborodo passenger boat (Kpekpekpe)Â carrying over 90 persons on its way to Warri last Thursday afternoon.
The market boat, which was coming from Ogidigben, was said to have been attacked close to an Ijaw village, thus creating tension between Itsekiri and Ijaw ethnic groups along the Escravos area.
Reacting swiftly to the attack on their people, the Ugborodo people said it was most unfortunate that the Ijaw, who they provided succour for in their most trying times in the aftermath of the infamous Gbaramatu militants/JTFÂ battle which occurred May 13 this year, have started what might result to another inter-ethnic crisis in the waterways.
Speaking on behalf of the Ugborodo people, the Vice-Chairman of the Ugborodo Community Trust, Mr. Isaac Botosan, said the incident was capable of causing another unwarranted violence in the waterways and appealed to community leaders to caution their restive youths so that lasting peace and development could come to the area for the benefit of the long suffering people of the oil rich area.
He called on Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to urgently intervene, as this was the second attack on innocent Itsekiri and their boats by the Ijaw in recent times.
Botosan called on the governor, the security agencies and leaders of Ijaw communities around the area to fish out the hoodlums for prosecution in the interest of peace.
According to a victim of the attack who escaped death by the whiskers but sustained gun shot injury, Mr. William Okerentie, an ex-service man, the heavily armed masked youths accosted them near an Ijaw village and immediately opened fire on passengers in the boat before coming on board to ransacked every passenger and dispossess them of all their monies and personal effects.
He said the militants also carted away drums of fuel used to power the engines to effectively ground their journey, saying they were left off the hook only after the robbers sighted security operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) coming after them.
The owner of the ill-fated passenger boat, Mr. Samson Martins, told Vanguard at the Headquarters of the Marine Police Base in Warri, where he went to lodge the complaints of attack, that when he got the distress call from his boat, he mobilized, bought some fuel and went in search of the boat.
According to him, by the time they found the attacked boat, another boat coming from Arunton in Escravos caught up with his boat and provided it with some fuel with which theyÂ managed to navigate their way until rescued by his search team.
Though the DPO in charge of the Base was unavailable for comments, other senior police officer who declined to speak to the press, retorted: â€œWhat confirmation do you need again?