Posted by By George Onah, Simon Ebegbulem, Charles Ozoemena & Samuel Oyadongha on
THE Police shed light, yesterday, on how seven of their men were killed by suspected militant youths who stormed the NAOC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Tuesday. In all nine persons, two of them civilians, died in the attack.
PORT-HARCOURT — THE Police shed light, yesterday, on how seven of their men were killed by suspected militant youths who stormed the NAOC headquarters in Port Harcourt, Tuesday. In all nine persons, two of them civilians, died in the attack.
A sad President Olusegun Obasanjo, reacting to the development yesterday directed the police authorities to track down the brains behind the insurgency. He also condoled families of the victims.
Meanwhile, a gun duel ensued yesterday between security men and suspected pipeline vandals at Oregha and Egborodo in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State. Eight barges loaded with petroleum products and belonging to the vandals exploded in the battle.
The Rivers State Police Command in a statement yesterday on Tuesday attack said: “On the 24th day of January, 2006, at about 1.45pm, information reaching the police had it that hoodlums numbering about 20, gained access into the premises of NAOC, in Port Harcourt.“A team of policemen was quickly drafted to the scene.
The police on arrival at the scene, learnt that the hoodlums numbering about 20 in army camouflage came into the premises through the company’s waterfront gate in three speed boats all armed with AK47 rifles.“They came with the pretext of being on routine visit. As they succeeded in entering the complex, the hoodlums started shooting indiscriminately and advanced towards the banks within the premises.“The Police Mobile Force men on duty in the complex moved to the scene but were ambushed whereseven of them, one spy police and one civilian, were shot dead instantly. The hoodlums carted awaythe sum of three million naira.“The corpses of the deceased have been deposited at a mortuary for autopsy, while efforts are intop gear as to tracking down the hoodlums. More details will be communicated in due course. Thecitizens should see the incident as an attack against the society but not only on the police.”
Obasanjo task police on attacks
President Obasanjo has since directed the police to track down the brains behind the attack. It was gathered that the military had joined in the search for the gunmen. NAOC has also evacuated its staff from the premises.
...sad over incident
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke jnr. told State House correspondents at the end of yesterday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council that President Obasanjo was deeply saddened by the incident.
He said: “Mr. President was deeply saddened by the development in Port Harcourt and extends his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. He is in contact with the Rivers State governor and he has also been briefed by the Inspector-General of Police.
“The Federal Government is committed to the security of everyone in the country and to ensure that people do their business unmolested. The government will take appropriate steps on these incidents and these people will be tracked down,” he said.
Security men, vandals clash
Meanwhile, eight barges loaded with petroleum product exploded yesterday when men of the Federal Task Force on Pipieline Vandalisation and pipeline vandals exchanged bullets in Oregha and Egborodo in Uvwie Local government area of Delta State.
It was learnt that men of the task force stormed the area following a tip-off that the vandals were having a field day in the area. On sighting the security men, the vandals opened fire in an attempt to escape. The security men returned fire. The exchange of fire lasted 30 minutes, during which time five barges loaded with petroleum products exploded.
The task force then moved to Egborodo and intercepted three barges also loaded with petroleum products and an attempt to arrest the vandals was fiercely resisted as the vandals also opened fire. Three barges went up in flames there.
Speaking to newsmen on the issue, Commander of the task force, CSP Sam Okaula said two of the vandals were arrested in the raid. A tanker with number plate ENUGU ZB 817 ENU loaded with siphoned PMS was also impounded. He added that the task force was in custody of a 911 Mercedes truck used in conveying siphoned petroleum product. He vowed to deal with pipeline vandals and those who engaged in bunkering activities.
He said: “We are determined to fight vandals in the Niger Delta. These people are heavily armed and as a result they have resisted arrest in most cases because they are always engaging my men in a shoot-out. But that will not deter us. We know how they operate and we are prepared to burst them any where they are so that they will know that this place is not a haven for them. We are also searching for their sponsors because these people are not alone in this business. They have sponsors and we must get them arrested to make our pipelines safe from such miscreants.”
Warning community leaders against protecting vandals, CSP Okaula said: “We have come to work here and any thing that will make our work or our mission not realisable, we intend to tackle it headlong. We shall not tolerate any community leader protecting criminals because the person will also be treated like a criminal when he is caught.”
Villagers are already fleeing the Niger Delta after the latest wave of attacks on foreign oil companies by ethnic Ijaw militia. The army deployed more troops to key installations and oil companies tightened security around their offices a day after heavily armed men stormed the headquarters of NAOC, robbing banks on the premises and killing nine people.
“There are soldiers everywhere and I don’t want my three girls in the firing line,” said Return Powei, from the village of Ogbotobo. “Our youths run into the forest when they hear the soldiers are coming. Everyone is moving out of Ogbotobo.”
At the riverside of Warri, villagers arrived in boats packed with household possessions from outlying villages, fearing military attacks to avenge the killing of a dozen soldiers in a raid on a Shell oil platform on January 15.
Shell has already withdrawn 500 staff and cut its output by 221,000 barrels a day, or one tenth of Nigerian exports. Hundreds of contractors have also fled as the military deploys extra troops to platforms and shipping terminals across the vast region.
FNDIC sues for peace
The Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities (FNDIC) has called on the parties involved in the current hostage drama and upsurge of violence in the Delta to cease-fire forthwith to allow foe.
The group in a statement signed by its President, Chief Bello Oboko and Director of Mobilisation, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, in Yenagoa expressed appreciation over Federal Government’s adoption of political solution to the crisis.
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