Gun battle mars Bayelsa youth election; leaves union official dead, several others injured

Posted by News Express | 6 February 2018 | 2,111 times

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A violent clash between two factions of youths of Okpoama community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has left one dead and many injured. The groups were said to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) 

It was gathered that the deceased, Iruo Ayebatonyo (Jr.), who reportedly killed on Sunday, was the Public Relations Officer of Okpoama Kingdom Youths Movement.

Ayebatonyo Jr. was said to have been shot at a close range in the neck and died shortly after arriving for medical attention at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.

Former Governor Timipre Sylva and the member representing Brass Constituency 2 in the State House of Assembly, Mr. Belemote Watson both hail from Okpoama.

It was learnt that a faction of the youth body was attacked with gunshots upon arrival at the waterside in the community at about 8pm on Sunday, and they reportedly returned fire.

Sources said that the exchange of gunfire between the warring factions led to serious injuries and the attendant pandemonium in the community.

They said that the 25-year-old Ayebatonyo (Jr.), spokesman of one of the factions, was shot in the neck, while many others sustained varying degrees of injuries. Witnesses expressed fears that some of the faction members might not survive the attacks.

Watson decried the killing and maiming of peaceful youths of Okpoama by suspected thugs and mercenaries in the name of the group's election.

He called on the King, the Council of Chiefs, security agencies, the youth leadership and the Action Committee of Okpoama to fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act for disciplinary action.

“The peace of Okpoama Kingdom is sacrosanct and we cannot afford to live in fear in our communities. We cannot be taken hostage by suspected thugs and mercenaries,” Watson said.

The Caretaker Chairman of the Brass LGA, Victor Isaiah, ordered the immediate suspension of the youth executive election in the area.

He said: “With the sad development recorded on Sunday, I have resolved to set up a committee to mediate in the entire process and bring about a lasting peace in Okpoama kingdom.

“Therefore, I have directed all security operatives in Twon-Brass to move and monitor the situation in Okpoama to ensure maintenance of peace, law and order in the Kingdom.”

In his reaction to the incident, Sylva called for peace in Okpoama.

In a statement by his Media Adviser, Doifie Buokoribo, the former Governor deplored the violence, describing it as unwarranted, unfortunate and strange to the hitherto peaceful people.

The statement read in part: “Sylva deplores the violence, describing it as unwarranted, unfortunate and strange to the hitherto peaceful community.

“He condoles with the family of the dead and prays for the quick recovery of the injured. He wonders at the level of desperation that would make some youths to spill blood, the blood of their fellow youths, in order to control the kingdom’s youth body.

“Sylva calls on the leadership of the community to work with the security agencies to ensure that all those involved in this violence are brought to book without delay.

“The former Governor reiterates the need for peace in the community, tasking all stakeholders to do everything within their powers to restore lasting order.”

The Police Public Relations Officer for the state Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat confirmed the incident but said that said he was yet to be properly briefed.

He said that he was in consultation with the Commissioner of Police over the development.

Source: News Express

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