By Egufe Yafugborhi & Perez Brisibe
Four AK-47 rifles belonging to policemen on escort duty are missing in Rivers State after pirates, Saturday night, abducted two civilians along Degema waterways, Degema Local Government Area.
Three of the missing firearms were said to have sunk in the river, as three of the policemen jumped into the rivers to swim to safety while the fourth was seized and carted away from the fourth personnel, who was caught in the boats as he could not swim.
The victims were reportedly travelling to one of the riverine communities in the area when 12 hoodlums, armed with AK-47 rifles in two speedboats ambushed and opened fire on them.
Though the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, was yet to officially respond to the incident when contacted, but a senior police officer at the state police command confirmed the incident to Vanguard.
The source, who spoke on anonymity, said the four policemen from the Special Protective Unit, SPU, base in Benin City, Edo State, where escorting one Malvin Thompson and his uncle, Festus Atline, when the hoodlums struck.
The source narrated that the incident occurred between Degema and Bakana communities adding that three of the policemen escaped into the river, while the sergeant identified as Uche Eneh, who could not swim, was beaten and dumped in the river by the hoodlums who disappeared with his rifle and the two victims.\
Speaking further, the source said: “While travelling on a passenger speedboat, they ran into an ambush of a gang of 12 pirates operating on two gunboats. Machine guns were mounted on each boat and the pirates were carrying AK-47 rifles.
“As soon as the police team entered the ambush, the hoodlums opened fire on them leading to a gun duel. The boat driver immediately abandoned his boat and jumped into the river.
“Without a driver, the boat lost control and was about to capsize when three of the policemen on board, an inspector with two sergeants, jumped into the river and swam to safety, leaving the third sergeant who was subsequently beaten and dumped into the river.”
The source gave the serial numbers of the rifles as 52-2404262, 1999 AGC 0231, 52-2518603 and 1999AGB1245, adding that the police has already employed the services of local sea divers to help in the recovery of the arms, while a manhunt for the victims and hoodlums is on.