By Samuel OYADONGHA
The recent upsurge in violent crimes along the creeks and waterways of Bayelsa State, has again brought to the fore the deteriorating security situation in the riverside enclave of the state where armed men are holding sway.
While suspected sea pirates are terrorizing commuters along the creeks and waterways, armed men are also taking advantage of the parlous state of security in the far flung communities, many of which are not accessible by road except by water.
Only last week, the peace of Ekeni community in Southern Ijaw local government area of the state, was violated by armed men suspected to be sea pirates.
A woman, identified as Madam Rhoda WukaBrisibe, was reportedly shot dead in the orgy of violence unleashed on the community by the gunmen, who allegedly missed their target.
But a police source who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the issue said, those who launched the attack on the community in which the woman was killed were gunmen and not sea pirates as being alleged in some quarters.
Those injured during the attack were Pakemie, Ilabai Leader and Mary John.
They were lucky to have escaped death by the whiskers, as they reportedly sustained serious injuries and were rushed to neighbouringFuropa community on the Atlantic fringe for treatment.
Also, three houses were allegedly razed by the invaders.
The remains of the dead woman had since been deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, according to a source, close to her family.
Though the motive for the attack could not be verified, Sweet Crude, nonetheless learnt that an ex- militant leader had earlier threatened to launch attack on the community over an alleged missing barge.
According to a community source, an ex militant from Angalabiri and Ogboinbiri, had prior to the attack made a call to the CDC chairman of Ekeni, that a barge was missing around the creeks of Ekeni and Forupa.”
He requested that Ekeni should produce the barge or risk being attacked.
“But we don’t know who assigned the ex- militant leader for the attack,” the source lamented.
Just as security operatives were yet to unravel the masterminds of the heinous act on Ekeni community, gunmen this time around, believed to be commercial kidnappers again struck weekend in the Nembe waterways and attacked a tugboat belonging to Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC.
The chief engineer and captain of the tugboat, were seized by the armed men who later demanded N5m ransom to set free their victims.
The tugboat which sailed from Port Harcourt in Rivers State, to Brass to load petroleum product at Agip terminal, was attacked by seven heavily armed men recently at Peter’s Town, Nembe.
This sad turn of event in the creeks and waterways is already having its toll on river transportation as most boat drivers are staying away from the troubled routes due to the activities of the rampaging hoodlums.
“Traveling by river is now a risky venture given the high number of attacks on passenger boats by armed bandits operating with impunity in the creeks,” a resident who simply gave his name as Eladebi said.
He added, “it is not enough having policemen deployed at strategic places in Yenagoa, the state capital and its environs to protect the citizenry, the government should also do the needful in the riverine areas, where innocent commuters are being terrorized, killed and dispossessed of their cash and valuables by sea bandits and other unscrupulous elements.”
Also lamenting the insecurity in the riverine area of the state, especially as witnessed at Ekeni, the group, Niger Delta Youths for Positive Attitude Change and Progress, condemned the killing and looting that took place in the community perpetrated by gunmen allegedly loyal to an ex -militant leader.
“We are calling on the federal, state governments and the Amnesty Office, to fish out the murderers that have held the people of Southern Ijaw hostage in their evils in the last one year,” the group noted.
The group warned that if the government fails to bring the killers to book, it would mobilize its members in the state to take over the Government House with protest and to express their displeasure to the government of Seriake Dickson, for failing to protect lives and property that he swore to protect.