By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa — Emotions ran high, yesterday, at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa Bayelsa State, as the remains of 11 out of the 12 policemen killed last Friday were deposited at the hospital’s morgue.
The combined team of soldiers drawn from the Joint Task Force, JTF, and operatives of the Nigeria Police, yesterday, recovered the burnt and decomposed bodies of the slain policemen along the creeks of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
Some of the recovered bodies were reportedly burnt and mutilated by their killers who also stripped them of their uniforms and rifles during the attack.
Security sources identified some of the victims as Senior Inspector Joseph Ofujuni, Constable Ebebi Lucky, aged 31 and an indigene of Isama in Delta State and one simply identified as Sgt Jack from Rivers State. The identities of others could not be obtained at press time. One of the three survivors was identified as Sgt Clinton Ambayi.
The senior inspector, it was learnt, was due for retirement before the end of the year.
The news of the recovery of the decomposed bodies of the policemen attracted a crowd of family members and sympathizers to the FMC waterside.
Armed security operatives deployed to the area to provide security for the pathologists and ambulance vehicles stationed at the waterside to convey the recovered corpses to the morgue had problem controlling the surging crowd that besieged the area. Scores of youths, women and relations of the slain policemen were seen waiting at the FMC waterside.
The corpses which were ferried to Yenagoa in a boat arrived the Ministry of Transportation jetty at about 6.45pm and bagged before they were conveyed in two Bayelsa State Ambulance Services’ buses to the FMC morgue.
Journalists were barred from getting close to the ambulances and some had shouting match with the policemen who insisted that they were working on instruction from above.
Police confirm recovery
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, confirmed that the bodies of the slain policemen had been recovered and moved to the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre.
He said: “Yes, the corpses of the slain policemen have been recovered and brought to Yenagoa.”
Speaking on the development, the Media Coordinator of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said the JTF, in a collaborative effort with the police, assisted in the search and rescue operation, noting “we successfully recovered their bodies.”
Meantime, the identity of the leader of the team of aggrieved ex-militant youths accused of launching the attack on the policemen have been identified as Virus. According to sources, he was the ‘Commanding Officer’ of the dismantled camp of the ex-militant leader, Kile Selky Torughedi aka Young Shall Grow.
How the policemen were attacked
Contrary to claims that the speedboat in which the policemen were travelling developed engine problem which made them easy targets for the attack, a security source who pleaded anonymity said the boat did not have any problem. The attack, the source said, occurred at Lobia 11 narrow waterway.
He said though the policemen were ambushed by the armed gunmen, who laid siege to the Lobia 11 community jetty, the speedboat used by the policemen was a smaller double 75 horse power engine as against their attackers’ faster speedboat. He sais this made it difficult for the policemen to escape.
According to the source, “the policemen were caught unawares by the armed gunmen who positioned themselves at the jetty. They (gunmen) rained bullets at the hapless policemen in the boat.”
He said: “While the gunmen at the jetty were shelling the policemen in the boat, another batch of gunmen came in a speedboat to join in the attack ostensibly to ensure that none of them escaped.”
The driver of the ill-fated boat who also escaped the violent attack was sighted at the FMC waterside and confirmed that the attack actually took place at Lobia 11 and that there was nothing wrong with his boat.
He said it was a miracle that he survived the volley of bullets rained at them.
Ex-militants volunteer to join manhunt for killers
Meanwhile the ex-militant leaders in the state under the aegis of the Leadership and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) have said they were willing to join the Nigeria Police in the manhunt for the killers of the policemen.
The President of the group, Comrade Reuben Wilson, known as ‘Commander Reuben’, said though the ex-militant leaders have offered to assist the police, their action is to redeem the image of the amnesty programme in the state.
They ‘ll not die in vain — Bayelsa Govt
In a related development, the Bayelsa State Government has reassured families of the 12 policemen killed in the attack that their death will not be in vain as government was determined more than ever before to bring the perpetrators to book.
The government in a statement warned that, the recently appointed State Special Prosecutor and the setting up of the Special Team were geared towards fast- tracking the manner and way criminal cases were being investigated and prosecuted as well as to ensure that culprits receive the right sentences and serve the punishments.
It emphasized that “it was unacceptable for persons, who have committed very grievous crimes to walk on the streets as free men.”