Troops of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), code-named Operation Delta Safe (ODS) have invaded Bilabiri Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, which has allegedly led to the killing of a key suspect in the murder of Four Naval rating a fortnight ago.
It was gathered that the attack, which was launched on Friday morning led to burning of some parts of the community during the search for the suspects, forcing residents to flee into the creeks for safety.
However, the military have not given reason for the onslaught that left houses burnt to the ground, it was learnt that the incident was in connection with the recent killings of four Naval ratings and abduction of foreigners in the area.
It was gathered that the military stormed the community at about 10:am in about nineteen gunboats.
They were said to have shot sporadically into the air before setting ablaze selected houses in both communities including the palace of the paramount ruler and those of suspected ex-militants.
The troops, according to sources, claimed that they were on the trails of hoodlums behind the killing of some servicemen two weeks ago along the Ramos River.
The military operation in the volatile area was said to have lasted more than three hours causing many residents to flee their homes and took refuge in the mangrove.
It will be recalled that some unknown gunmen killed four Naval ratings and abducted two foreigners at Agge coastal area, close to Bilabiri community. The incident occurred when the gunmen seized a dredger escorted by the operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS).
The gunmen attacked the Sterling Global Dredger causing a heavy gun battle between them and the ratings. The gunbattle, which reportedly lasted for hours led to the killings of the four ratings with others sustaining injuries.
The gunmen seized the dredger and abducted two Russian nationals and one Indian.
A resident from the area, who spoke in confidence confirmed the military invasion describing it as sad.
He alleged that the incident is a revenge mission, but said it was unfortunate that the military chose such an ugly path whenever a crime occurs in an Ijaw community.
Also, the Ekeremor Federated Youth Council (EFYC) frowned on the ongoing destruction of Bilabiri community by soldiers. The President, EFYC, Etolor Prince, described the action of the military as unprofessional.
He said: “The ongoing military invasion at Bilabiri community is one too many occurrences in Ekeremor LGA and It is so sad that I have to once again condemn this continuous unprofessional act of the Nigerian military at the slightest provocation.
“It is so sad and annoying to note that, one will never see them carrying out this practice in the north where our brothers in the military are killed on duty every now and then but our case here is nothing to write home about. They (military) should know that this approach is not working and will never work.
“Please, it is high time the legal luminaries in our region stood up to this injustice meted on our people. I strongly believe legal actions can go a long way to tackle this menace.
“At this juncture, please permit me to sympathise with the people of Bilabiri I & II communities for the loss and I urge government at all levels most especially well-meaning leaders to immediately come to the aid of our people in any way possible to cushion the immediate hardship caused by this attack”.
When contacted the Spokesman, ODS, Eromosele Unuakhalu, promised to get back for clarifications.