Protests rock Bayelsa, Delta communities over killings
A gale of protests rocked communities in Bayelsa and Delta States, both in Niger Delta region on Saturday as residents took to the streets to seek redress over alleged killings of members of their communities.
In Biogbolo-Epie community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, irate residents took to the streets to protest the alleged death of their son, Goodluck Izigwe, in police custody yesterday.
The aggrieved protesters were joined in solidarity by youths from other communities in the area under the auspices of Oguan (Epie-Atissa) Youth Council.
They blocked the ever-busy Mbiama-Yenagoa Road and the Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa, the state capital, with canopies, woods and tyres.
The incident left many residents stranded and disrupted vehicular movement as commuters had to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
An indigene of Biogbolo-Epie and chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Epie-Atissa clan chapter, Peter Epem, accused the police of killing the 27-year-old Izigwe by torture.
Epem claimed the deceased was among eight youths of the community who were arrested by the personnel of Operation Puff Adder from the Bayelsa State Police Command.
He said: “On Tuesday, policemen attached to the Operation Puff Adder stormed our community, Biogbolo-Epie, and arrested eight of our youths, including the youth president, and took them away. We don’t know why they were arrested.
“Out of torture, one of our sons, among those in detention, is dead. We the people of Epie-Atissa are demanding the release of the remaining youths in Puff Adder’s detention.
“The police have gone beyond professionalism in their conduct and they should be investigated. We want to know how and why Goodluck Izigwe died in police custody. Our mothers and fathers are also protesting. The police kept our youths in detention, torture them, and today one of them is dead.”
Also speaking, the President of Oguan (Epie-Atissa) Youth Council, Inatimi Timothy, said the victim was in good health when he was taken away alongside seven other youths by the police, adding that he was reportedly beaten to death while in detention.
Timothy said: “The youths of Epie-Atissa are aggrieved owing to the extra-judicial killing of Goodluck, a sound moral youth of Biogbolo community that was arrested in good health by Operation Puff Adder team, taken away in good health to their station and beaten to death like a goat or a fowl.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Echeng E. Echeng, has ordered discreet investigation and autopsy to determine the cause of death of Izigwe’s death.
The State Police Command in a statement, titled, “Sudden and Unnatural Death of a Suspect in Custody”, issued by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Asinim Butswat, claimed that the victim was apprehended in connection with an armed robbery incident.
The command said: “The deceased suspect was arrested in connection with the armed robbery incident that occurred on 21 September, 2021, at Biogbolo, Yenagoa, when hoodlums attacked police patrol team, fatally injured Inspector Ugbotor Sunday and carted away his riffle.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that Goodluck Oviekeme was the mastermind of the attack on the patrol team. He was arrested on 22 September, 2021 at about 0300 hours, while in police custody, the suspect was observed to be running high temperature and was rushed to the hospital where he eventually died.”
Despite a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Orhoakpor community in Ethiope East council area of Delta state, unidentified hoodlums reportedly set ablaze the home of the community chairman.
It was gathered that the residence of the chairman, whose name could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report, was torched Friday night.
It should be noted that the curfew was imposed Thursday, following the killing of the immediate past Vice President of the community, Anthony Oreh, by yet-to-be identified assailants.
The local government chairman, Hon. (Pharm.) Victor Ofobrukueta, according to press release by his media aide, John Jephthah, had announced the restriction of movement within the hours of 7pm and 7am.
Oreh was reportedly killed while trying to mediate in an alleged cult attack on the vigilante chairman of the community.
The council had in the press release, said the dusk-to-dawn restrictions was “due to the rising threats to the safety of lives and properties in Orhoakpor Community.”
Parts of the statement said “all Police formation situated in proximity to Orhoakpor Community are hereby ordered to enforce the curfew in accordance.
“Accordingly, residents of Orhoakpor Community should endeavor to comply to enable security operatives maintain Law and Order.
“Vehicular movement, inclusive of motorcycles, bicycles are also restricted in the community during these hours.
“Essential services and emergencies will only be allowed movement during these hours. Security operatives will be on patrol and routine check. They have instructions to detain anyone on the road passed 7 p.m without proper authorisation.”
The Delta State Police spokesman, DSP Bright Edafe confirmed the killing but could not ascertain if it was cult-related.
He also said he was yet to be briefed on the burning down of the said chairman’s house.