One Shot Dead, 8 Injured As Ex-Militants Protest Against Dickson


...As NNPC’s surveillance contract turn violent in Bayelsa
From Christopher Uche, Yenagoa

Bayelsa youths, mostly ex-militant leaders yesterday staged a violent protest against the style of leadership of Governor Seriake Dickson whom they accused of deliberately starving the entire state with the excuse of low allocation from federal government.

The protest which turned violent had one person, suspected to be an ex-militant youth, feared dead, while eight others sustained serious injuries following a clash with armed Policemen in the state.

The youths also accused the Governor of an alleged plan to hijack the multimillion Oil Pipeline Surveillance Contract from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to oil bearing communities in the state.

The protest by the Ex-militants, including some sympathetic groups such as the Physically Challenged Persons, started at about 6am yesterday at the Tombia-Etegwe roundabout with travelers stranded and commercial activities brought to a halt.

The arrival of combatant policemen deployed from the State Police Headquarters and the shooting of tear gas canister into the crowd of ex-militant youths led to a rowdy and violent confrontation between the Police and the agitated youths.

While the angry ex-militant youths reportedly fought back by vandalizing the truck of the Police team with heavy rocks and demobilizing the truck with burning tyre, the armed policemen descended on them with heavy batons and butt of the rifle.

Over Nine vehicles were vandalized in the ensued crisis with markets and business outlets including the popular camp muphy relaxation spot vandalized.

It took the intervention of the State Police Command and some members of the Presidential Amnesty Implementation Committee to calm the frayed nerves of the ex-militant youths, even as it was gathered that one John Opotobo, an ex-militant youth from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the State was killed in the fracas.

Others sustained various degree of injuries on the head and neck.

When contacted,  the Spokesman to the Bayelsa Police Command, Butswat Ansim  denied the killing of one of the protesting ex-militant youths, ”the police only shot tear gas canisters to disperse them.The police did not shoot live cartridges.”

He however confirmed that six of the protesting ex-militants were arrested.

An ex-militant leader, Comrade Eris Paul popularly known as General Ogunboss, who participated in the protest, said the angry ex-militant youths staged the protest due to the wrong policies of the present administration in the state and the plot by Governor Seriake Dickson to hijack a multibillion dollar NNPC pipeline surveillance contract to communities in the state.

According to Ogunboss,”aside from the numerous show of incompetence by the present administration, Dickson is trying to hijack the job meant for the oil bearing communities in the state. Most of the South-South states have signed the allocation of the surveillance contract but Dickson is insisting that the job be awarded to a self-styled company known as Izon Ibe.A security outfit that we don’t know.”

“Dickson should concentrate on the use of State allocation and internally generated revenue to advance the good of the State rather than hijack jobs coming to communities”.



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