A manhunt has begun for militants who killed three soldiers attached to the Operation Delta Safe in Bayelsa State on Monday, according to the Nigerian Army.
Meanwhile, the state government has condemned the killing of the soldiers in Nembe community, describing the action as barbaric and not in the best interest of the people.
Similarly, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has said that the killing of both army and air force personnel in Bosso, Niger State, is unacceptable to the military.
While commiserating with the military over the brutal killing in Bayelsa by armed bandits, Governor Seriake Dickson described the incident as most painful and unfortunate. He pointed out that a similar incident occurred in July last year, when soldiers were attacked at the same security checkpoint in Nembe, resulting in deaths.
Addressing the people of Nembe at the King Koko Square, in the community, the governor, who was represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), said he took it upon himself to visit the scene of the incident to condole with the military authorities, with a view to dousing the palpable tension occasioned by the sad incident.
While urging members of the community, who have fled to return home, Dickson called on youths and other stakeholders to collaborate with the military authorities in order to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book. He pleaded with the clergy to continue to pray for lasting peace in the community.
The Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral J. O. Okojie, assured the people of Nembe that the perpetrators of the dastardly act would be made to account for their mindless actions, adding that his men were already on their trail.
Okojie urged residents of the community to volunteer useful information to the military authorities, promising that innocent citizens would not be molested.
Earlier in their separate speeches, Ebi Ben-Ololo, member representing Nembe Constituency I in the House of Assembly; Chief Bright Erewari-Iweka, vice-chairman, Nembe Council of Chiefs; and Chief Walter Feghabo-Amain, all condemned the killing of the soldiers and expressed their condolences to the military authorities.
They also recalled that since the coming of the military joint task force to Nembe, the community had enjoyed relative peace. They said the residents would continue to co-operate with the security operatives, with a view to ensuring that the killers are apprehended and made to face wrath of the law.
Gen. Buratai, speaking on the Niger killings, said that as armed forces they would continue to perform their constitutional roles as they have the mandate to bring any ugly situation under control.
He spoke to journalists at the 332 Artillery Regiment in Shendam after inspecting the military formation there in the evening of Monday.
The COAS, who was visibly angry at the killing of the military personnel, described the incident as very wicked and unfortunate. The security operatives were said to have been ambushed and murdered.
According to him, the troops were on their legal duties to ensure that the arms kept in the communities as well as the locally fabricated weapons are retrieved.
“Instead of the communities to be law-abiding, they took the law into their hands and attacked our troops and unfortunately they killed both the army and air force personnel there. This is unacceptable and we will continue to perform our constitutional roles. We have that mandate to bring any situation under control and we are working in synergy with the civil police to ensure that we keep our society free of such criminalities,” Buratai stressed.
Shedding more light on the directive by the president that the army should deal decisively with the perceived herdsmen who are terrorising the communities, he said the army had been doing that and would continue to do that.
The COAS said the army was working in synergy with all the affected state governments and other security agencies. “Intelligence is vital. We are gathering all the necessary intelligence to ensure that we target those criminals that are causing this menace in our society. So, we are carrying out Mr. President’s directives and we will make sure that we implement them to the fullest. So, we are committed to having a very safe and peaceful society.”