By Emma Amaize, Samuel Oyadongha & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—In a unanimous decision, yesterday, the House of Representatives directed Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, and the military hierarchy to stop further incursion of soldiers in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The House also asked the military to stop counter-attacks on the people of the area over the killing of a soldier at a joint military checkpoint in the Ogbobagbene community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State by unknown persons.
The members, while condemning the attacks, urged the military to rather fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act instead of resorting to counter-attacks on the villagers.
The House also called on the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to urgently provide relief materials to the victims of the attacks.
The resolutions followed a motion under matters of national importance at plenary by Mr Frederick Agbedi (Bayelsa-PDP).
According to him, Late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration had commissioned a Joint Military Task Force to prevent pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region which necessitated the presence of soldiers in the area.
Regretting, however, that the incident at Ogbubagbene community, Delta State, had resulted in invasion of the community by armed soldiers, the lawmaker said that several houses had been razed with indigenes including women and children manhandled.
When subjected to voice vote by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Yussuff Lasun, who presided over the plenary, the motion got the nod of members.
The House also observed a minute silence in honour of the dead during the attacks.
Meanwhile, the JTF, in the Niger Delta code named Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, has said that its ongoing operations to fish out killers of its personnel in Delta State were within its rule of engagement.
This is as troops deployed at Tuma in Rivers State reportedly repelled an attack on a house boat killing four of the attackers. Four soldiers were injured during the gun duel in which a civilian was killed.
Commander of the JTF, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, stated this yesterday in Yenagoa, while updating newsmen on last week’s attack on its personnel deployed at Ogbougbagbene community in Delta State and the current military operation to fish out the killers.
Meanwhile, militants suspected to have attacked a military checkpoint, killed a soldier and made away with a General Purpose Machine Gun, GPMG, at Ogbogbagbene community, have relocated from their camp in a riverine community in Bayelsa State to an unknown hideout as soldiers intensify the manhunt for them.
Also, chairman of Toru Ndoro community Bayelsa State, Mr. Sokie Andie, his deputy, Yerekeme Afamukoro, youth president, Ebikadumene Afesuku and chairman of Bulu-Ndoro community, Delta state, Miebibo Agumu, arrested, last weekend, by the military over allegations of providing cover for the militants were released on Tuesday evening.
A source confided in Vanguard that the military, acting on a tip off, tracked the militants to Bulu-Ndoro community, but before the soldiers got to the community, they had vanished.
It was gathered that a militant group was trying to establish a militant camp in the area before the Ogbogbanene invasion, but it was not clear at press time, if it was the same band that carried out killed the soldier and stole a GPMG.
Vanguard gathered that the military ordered the chairman of Bulu-Ndoro community, Mr. Andie and others before their release to produce the militants, the stolen GPMG or provide information that will lead to their arrest.
But Andiewho told their military interrogators that he knew nothing about the suspected militants and their whereabouts, confirmed to Vanguard soon after he arrived Bulu-Ndoro on Wednesday: “It is true that I and others have been released, I am just arriving my community now.”
He said, “They took all of us that were arrested to the military battalion at Effurun, Delta State, they accused us of hiding the militants, but we told them the allegation is untrue. They accused us of so many things, which we know nothing about. Our community leaders in Yenagoa intervened and they released us with some conditions.”
He said that as a community leader: “I cannot run away from my community, they used to be some bad boys in our community, just like they are bad boys in other communities, but since this incident, the bad boys have all left here, I do not know where they are now.”