Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close






Blood, tears & sorrow in Agge

Posted by By FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa on 2008/08/16 | Views: 1322 |

Blood, tears & sorrow in Agge


Agge, the coastal community along the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on August 4 lost its serenity as personnel of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) code-named ‘Operation Restore Hope’ invaded the community in hot pursuit of youths who attacked soldiers in Tuomo and Bomadi communities the previous day, August 3.

Agge, the coastal community along the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on August 4 lost its serenity as personnel of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) code-named ‘Operation Restore Hope’ invaded the community in hot pursuit of youths who attacked soldiers in Tuomo and Bomadi communities the previous day, August 3.

As with Odi and Odioma – the two communities in Bayelsa state previously invaded respectively in 1999 and 2004 by soldiers in search of criminals - Agge was not spared as the JTF left in its wake sorrow and tears of a people who have been visited by sins of suspected criminals living in their community.

First shot
On Sunday August 3, men of the JTF, complying with the directives to shut down illegal refineries in operation in the creeks of the Delta, combed Tuomo and Bomadi in Burutu and Bomadi Local Government Areas of Delta state.

As they did, a gun battle ensued, with fighters on both sides employing sophisticated weapons in the confrontation.
According to a source, the battle was so fierce for the JTF men that they beat a retreat, leaving behind two of their gunboats.
The armed youths with minimal causalities on their side reportedly relocated to Agge community, which has tactically supported their activities as some of its ringleaders are believed to be natives.
They were joined by some splinter groups of youths from the creeks to resist the military incursion into the community.

Reprisal attack
Apparently licking its wounds, the JTF, acting on a tip-off and with the full of support of some neighbouring communities obviously intolerant of the militancy of the Agge youths, stormed the area on Monday, August 4 to flush them out.

Sunday Sun investigations revealed that the attack, to say the least, was devastating as the soldiers who took part in the operation in three gunboats, opened fire as they stepped foot in the community, attacking the identified hideouts of their target.
The armed youths attempted to resist the soldiers by firing back, but the firepower of the military was superior, such that they (youths) ran further into the creeks. Of course, other residents fled along believing they were headed for safety.

What was described as stray bullets shot by the soldiers reportedly hit some houses where dynamites were stockpiled, resulting in explosion that wreaked more havoc.
Accroding to the commander of the JTF in Bayelsa, Lt. Col Chris Musa told Sunday Sun that during the attack, three boats and ammunition were seized from the militant youths and moved to the headquarters of the JTF in Warri.
The soldiers, after the attack, did not leave the area as more troops were moved to secure the area and smoke out the armed youths from whenever they were hiding.


Homeless
However, the picture of the operation painted by Musa was punctured by the people of the community. According to them, the military, aside attacking their ‘enemy’, also burnt down a part of the community.
A man who identified himself as Akpos, and who said he is hiding in Letugbene, a neighbouring community, accused the military of seeking vengeance against Ijaw people.
He said following the attack, over 500 people from the community have been rendered homeless, while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
According to Akpos, a 37-year-old man, Yuomo Mientande, slumped and died at the sight of his house and property being razed by soldiers.
He, however, did not deny that the armed youths who attacked the soldiers were in the community, adding that the JTF should have employed a more civilized tactics to track down their enemies.

Another man, Binabi, 28, said the military should have exercised caution when they entered the community as the people had no option than to cooperate with them, to arrest the culprits, in order to avert the agony they have caused the entire community.
According to Binabi, because of the attack, the Bilabiri and Letugbene communities are now living in fear that the soldiers might come back.
Checks by Sunday Sun revealed that some elite of the community have moved to Warri, Delta state, to mobilize support and solicit relief materials for their people still hiding in the bush.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), in tandem with Akpos and Binabi, explained that the JTF should have investigated and plan properly before storming the community.
In a statement signed by Jomo Gbomo, MEND condemned what it called the “wanton destruction of lives and property in the impoverished community of Agge” by “cowardly men of the Military Joint Task Force.”
Though MEND distanced itself from the criminal activities of the youths, it however said the JTF should have narrowed its raid to a specific houses rather than the whole community.

JTF rationalizes attack
But for the 78 Battalion of JTF, its men were justified in attacking Agge because the community was aware of the activities of its youths but did nothing to call them to order.
Lt. Col Chris Musa said that there was no rationale for a community to keep criminals and expect no repercussions.
He accused the community of harbouring criminals as well as helping them to hide their weapons.
When his attention was drawn to 37-year-old Meintande who reportedly slumped when he saw his house razed, Musa said his men were cautious in their attack, adding that they knew those they were looking for.
Musa lamented the unrepentant posture of the community, alleging that armed youths are still there with dynamites and ammunition. He vowed that the JTF would cut them to size.

“Why should they be harbouring criminals? Of what use are the criminals to the community? They are aware of their activities yet they kept them in the community to continue to terrorize innocent people with their arms. We know all these things, that the community condones the armed the youths who have in their possession ammunition and dynamites. We did not just attack the community, we know what we are doing,” he insisted.

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (1)

Gravatar
New
Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.