Twenty policemen in three escort gunboats escaped death on Saturday when unidentified youths engaged them in a shoot-out on the creeks of Bayelsa.
The policemen were said to be escorting an ex-militant leader, Mr Eris Paul, to Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Paul, popularly called Ogunboss, said the attack was carried out by community youths involved in oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.
“These are boys that I included their names in my amnesty list and prevailed not to go back to crime.
“My continual attempt to stop them from the noticeable acts of oil theft led to the attack,” he said.
Paul denied the allegation that he was involved in the community development committee politics in the community.
Sources in the community had alleged that the ex-militant leader had led three police gunboats in Saturday’s attack that lasted for an hour.
The attack was reportedly resisted by community youths until a naval unit stationed in an oil installation within the community intervened and brought the situation under control.
The naval team and the police gunboats and security officials returned to Yenagoa where the security agencies are now reviewing the incident.
Reacting, Mr Hilary Opara, the Bayelsa Commissioner of Police, told NAN on Sunday that the force was in the community to maintain peace.
“It is untrue that police attacked the community; how can we be attacking the people we are paid to protect?
“We were notified that there was a fight in the community and we deployed men to the area.
“The people may have misunderstood our mission when the team arrived there, we saw them at the water front there and we asked our men to come back to avoid confrontation,’’ he said.
The commissioner said the police went there to maintain the peace and not to fight anyone, adding that he had called for all the factions to be brought to his office on Monday. (NAN)