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80 years old cleric protests killing of son by military

By News Express on 25/01/2017

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•Troops in armoured tanks on a Niger Delta street.
•Troops in armoured tanks on a Niger Delta street.

The family of a boat driver who died in a fatal shooting by suspected operatives of the Joint Military Task Force in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, has demanded justice, insisting that he was innocent.

Mr. Boluozimo Tulagha, 39, died on January 13, 2017 from three shots allegedly fired by operatives at the waterfront of Polaku community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The family of the deceased boat transport operator has expressed anger and determination to receive justice.

It has not yet been established, why the boat driver, who plied his trade in Polaku and environs for more than seven years was shot dead.

But community sources, say that Boluozimo was contracted by a gang of hoodlums to help them to carry some vegetables from Polaku to Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state.

They further said that unknown to the boat driver, some items suspected to be guns were concealed in the sack of vegetables the gang hired him to ferry for them.

The sources claimed that operatives, acting on a tip-off, had laid an ambush for the boat, and when the boat was about to sail, the security operatives opened fire, which allegedly led to the killing of the boat driver.

However, another source claimed that the boat driver was felled by bullets from the troops when a suspected gang of hoodlums, suspected to be gunrunners engaged in a shootout with the JTF operatives.

It was learnt that after the incident, the troops arrested two members of the gang, who were said to have been detained by the operatives.

The father of Boluozimo, Rev. E.D. Tulagha, a cleric and former secondary school Principal, claimed that his son was murdered in cold blood and that he did not have any history of criminality since he was born.

Leading the family members in a protest in Yenagoa, the octogenarian said the indiscriminate killing of his ‘innocent’ son was very patience-absorbing and miserable.

He said the late Boluozimo had been driving that speed boat for more than seven years and had never had any problem until some youths negotiated with him to make a trip to Odi.

Tulagha stated: “On January 13, 2017 they were ready to move to Odi. Boluozimo went into the boat in order to warm the engine. The security men appeared with guns and shot Boluozimo’s leg.

“He then shouted with uplifted hands and said, ‘I am only a driver; I don’t know anything about them. Do not kill me’.

“Then the operatives lodged another gunshot on one side of his shoulder. He was shouting and crying, ‘Don’t kill me, I am ignorant of anything they are doing.

“The security operatives, in the process gave the third gunshot into his bowels and Boluozimo died right on the spot.

“After that, according to information, their boss arrived with a gunboat. He then warned that no gunshot should be made,” he said.

Tulagha, however, said that subsequent information gathered was that the youth who approached his son were cultists and that was not made known to him (Boluozimo), insisting that his son was completely innocent of who they were.

He said the killing of his son was curious bearing in mind that they did not see any gun with him and that when the first shot was fired, he begged them with uplifted hands that he was innocent.

“The security agents are not supposed to shoot at sight, even a criminal without investigating critically the reason for the crime. The security agents in this regard could be termed vandals as it was in the case of late Boluozimo.

“Even if the Police or any other security agents are approaching a scene of action, they will not shoot until the scene is uncontrollably wild then shooting can take place or at best the army can intervene.

“But there was no such atmosphere, therefore, there is a case against the operatives,” the father said.

He pleaded with the relevant authorities to investigate the unwarranted killing of his son, whom he described as one of the most well-behaved of his children and bring the culprits to justice.

Also, a younger brother of the deceased, Dr. Charles Tulagha, described the killing of Boluozimo as callous and wicked.

Charles, a medical doctor at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, said: “As a family, we frown at the unjust killing of our brother; we want to clear the air that Boluozimo was neither a cultist nor militant.

“The Boluozimo that I know as a brother was far from all the allegations leveled against him.

“He was tagged militant by the security agents. My brother was just a driver; he was not a militant or a criminal.

“He had been doing the business for over seven years. That was his business. He did not even drink, he did not smoke, he was innocent and far from militancy.

“I believe that killing him after he raised his hands to prove his innocence was preposterous, callous and unthinkable of the security agents.

“We are appealing for justice to be done. We want the government to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Charles said.

However, the Coordinator, Joint Media Campaign Centre, of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, said the incident was a case of arms deal, adding that two persons had been arrested in connection with the matter.

He said arms deal was a sensitive matter, urging Journalists to refrain from sensationalising such issue in order not to jeopardise investigation process.

Daudu said: “We have two of them in our net. So, I wouldn’t know what they were protesting for, neither would I want to respond to their protest because I see it as an attempt to cause diversion and distraction.

“And I will implore Journalists to always weigh such matter before even bringing it up for confirmation.

“This is because sometimes, these are very serious security matters which as investigations are ongoing, we may not want to divulge too much so that it will not jeopardise the ongoing investigation process.

“However, I want to believe that with the facts on ground, and what they (family) themselves have stated, they are heavily indicted. This matter is a highly sensitive security issue that cannot be handled in any lackadaisical manner.”

Source News Express

Posted 25/01/2017 3:46:42 PM


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