Posted by By FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa on
Niger Delta militants in the early hours of Wednesday went on rampage bombing the private residence of Vice President-elect and Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan at Otouke, in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Niger Delta militants in the early hours of Wednesday went on rampage bombing the private residence of Vice President-elect and Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan at Otouke, in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. They similarly bombed the local government divisional police headquarters, killing four policemen.
The incident took place as military personnel gathered in Yenagoa for a three-day capacity building workshop organized by the Ministry of Defence for Defence correspondents.
According to eye-witness accounts, the militants stormed Otouke about 1a.m. in five speed boats and anchored at Jonathanís residence overlooking the waterside.
While still in their boats, the militants were said to have thrown an object suspected to be grenade, which exploded and destroyed part of the house.
The sound of the explosion attracted the policemen on duty to the waterside, while relatives of Jonathan sleeping in the house rushed out and scampered for safety.
The militants were said to have come down and gained access into the house but they were confronted by the policemen who shot at them.
In the ensuing gun battle, a police corporal was shot dead while others unable to match the superior gunfire of the militants escaped.
The police corporal whose name is yet to be ascertained, was only posted to Ogbia on Sunday and reported for duty at Jonathanís house on Monday.
The militants having a field day again threw dynamite into the building and exploded another one at the police post.
Investigations revealed that they moved into the town shooting sporadically and daring the villagers to come out.
After wreaking havoc in Otouke, they proceeded to Ogbia town where they attacked the divisional headquarters. But the dynamite they threw could not have maximum impact as the policemen on duty fought gallantly to prevent them from entering the fenced building.
The militants, however, engaged them in a gun duel and killed three policemen before they went back to the Ogbia waterside and sped off.
When Daily Sun got to Otouke, billows of smoke covered the building as relatives and sympathizers were helping in the evacuation of the personal effects of Jonathanís family to a hotel believed to be owned by the wife.
Early callers at the village to ascertain the level of damage was the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Julian Okpaleke, the senators-elect for Bayelsa Central and East senatorial districts, Chiefs Emmanuel Paulker and Nimi Amange. Others were the paramount ruler of Opume, Amarate Jonny Turner and the Special Adviser to Jonathan on security matters, Major Andrew Oputa.
A disturbed Okpaleke condemned the act, explaining that the same group that carried out the attack in Otuoke also attacked the police headquarters in Ogbia.
He vowed that the police would unravel those behind the dastardly act.
But Jonathan has described the incident as a minor incident which had political undertones.
A calm Jonathan speaking to journalists at the opening ceremony of the workshop for Defence correspondents said the incident was part of the sacrifices he had to pay for the sustenance of democracy.
Also, the President of the Ijaw National Congress, INC, Prof Kimse Okoko, in an interview condemned the attack, noting that it was regrettable.
"All I can say is that it is most unfortunate and regrettable. It is completely uncalled for," he said.
Security has been beefed up around Jonathan as military men attached to the Joint Task Force have been drafted to join his security. Security has also been beefed up around his private residence at Nikton Road, Yenagoa.
As of the time of filling this report no militant group had taken responsibility of the action.
Jonathan who was later conducted round the damaged building by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Julian Okpaleke said those who carried out the attack could not be said to be fighting for the struggle of the Niger Delta.
He wondered why some people could be aggrieved at his election as the vice president, noting that he is there because the people have confidence in him.
"I have been deputy governor for six and half years before being governor and the people said I should be vice president because of the trust they have in me. If these people do not believe in somebody that does not loot, who they want to believe in?" he added.
Jonathan said the motive of the militants for attacking the divisional police headquarters in Ogbia was to steal arms to further carry out their activities.
He condoled with families of those who lost their lives, promising that government would bring to book all those involved in the dastardly act.