*Threaten operatives with weapons, threw stones at them
*It’s a lie; rampaging NSCDC men shot a vigilante member – Youth leader
By Emem Idio
IKARAMA- THE shooting of a neighbourhood watch member at Ikarama community, Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, allegedly by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, last Tuesday, is generating controversy in the state.
While some persons in the community claim that NSCDC operative shot a vigilante member, the state Commandant, Mr. Godwin Nwachukwu, said his men neither shot nor injured anybody, adding that oil thieves destroyed a bridge leading to the community to evade arrest.
Report indicated the Anti-Vandal team of NSCDC had gone to the community in search of a suspected oil vandal, but arrested a female suspect in his stead, while a local vigilante member, Perekurofa Odoyibo, was shot in an ensuing commotion between security agents and his group.
The victim supposedly shot on the arm and leg, according to the report, was in a critical condition at an undisclosed hospital in the state capital.
His wife, Mrs Rebecca Odoyibo, lamented: “Look at what they did to my husband who volunteered for the community vigilante work, he is there in pains and we lack the resources offset his hospital bills.”
How they shot vigilante
Narrating what transpired, a youth leader, Mr. Ben Warder said: “The local vigilante team noticed the NSCDC van at about 3.00 am and was trying to find out why they had to take away a nursing mother with children over an offence purportedly committed by the husband.”
“They shot one of them and sped off with the woman. They came from the oil field in Ikarama, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and that is why the youths mobilized and blocked the road to the Okordia manifold.
“The youths subsequently mobilized to protest the use of security men to molest oil communities; this is because we learnt that the arrest is linked to an oil spill incident,” he asserted.
I’m not a pipeline vandal- Suspect
However, Mr. Orukari Udoji, the suspect whose wife, Deborah, was arrested and later released by operatives of the NSCDC, denied any involvement in pipeline vandalism.
He said: “I was out in the forest for my timber lumbering work when men of NSCDC stormed my residence and took away my wife. I am at a loss on what to do because I do not even have idea of where they took her to, and as we speak I do not even have money to pay transport to go in search of her.”
“Everybody in this community knows that I do timber work and by the time they came, I was in the forest working and they claimed that there was oil spill in the bush near where I felled some timber.”
It’s unfortunate – Traditional head
Traditional head of Ikarama community, Chief Richard Seiba, told our reporter: “What the Civil Defence people did was regrettable, they shot the boy twice on the arm and leg, I have just visited him and he is in pains and is currently receiving medical attention.”
Ikarama notorious for oil theft – NSCDC commandant
Reacting to the hullabaloo generated by operations of his men, the state Commandant, Mr. Godwin Nwachukwu, stated:”Ikarama is notorious for oil theft and pipeline vandalism and the syndicate has always adopted devilish strategies to frustrate the efforts of NSCDC to stop their practices. Despite all the antics of these evil merchants, we have continuously remained resolute to ensure an end to this economic crime.”
“Our anti-vandal team based at Ikarama community responded to a case of sabotage of oil pipelines in the community. The team was only doing its legitimate duty in line with the mandate of the NSCDC.
Community hassle our operatives
“Our investigation into the incident that happened on the said night revealed that our men did not release any single gunshot. Despite all the harassments, insults and other uncivil means unleashed on them to stop them from arresting a key suspect involved in the recent vandalism in the community. They were professional and fired no shot.
“Though the suspect escaped, they were able to arrest a woman, who works with the man and knew his whereabouts. The woman was quizzed and later released. She made valuable confessional statements, which we are using to continue with our investigation.
Syndicate lays ambush
“Not relenting in their plots to frustrate and blackmail the operations of NSCDC in the war against oil theft in the area, the syndicate whipped up public sentiment and tried to ambush our men, who returned to the community the next day to arrest the key suspect.
“They demolished the bridge leading to the community the next day, threatened the lives of our men by brandishing all manner of weapons and even hauled stones at them.”