Troops of the Joint Force (JF), Operation Pulo Shield (OPS), have killed a boat driver, who hailed from Olugbobiri, Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State.
It was gathered that the killing of the boat operator was caused by the tension and mutual suspicion pervading the waterways of Bayelsa and Delta States because of the activities of militants.
A source from the community, who spoke in confidence, identified the slain boat driver as Ernest, who until the incident, worked for one of the oil servicing firms in the region.
It was learnt that the troops, who were patrolling the waterways on Sunday in search of militants, mistook occupants of the speedboat operated by Ernest for hoodlums and fired at it.
Trouble reportedly started when the soldiers sighted a 200 horsepower boat moving from Brass to an undisclosed location and tried in vain to flag it down.
The occupants of the boat on noticing the patrol boat and armed uniform soldiers, however, suspected them to be pirates.
The source said: “Ernest was coming from Brass when he noticed a patrol boat. But all the occupants of the boat thought the patrol boat belonged to pirates. They reasoned that pirates have always disguised like soldiers to attack unsuspecting members of the public.
“They ignored all the efforts by the patrol boat to stop them. While they were speeding out of perceived danger, the soldiers released a warning gunshot into the air. But the speedboat kept moving. Out of fear the occupants jumped into the water and swarmed into the mangroves.”
“Ernest was the only one left in the boat when the soldiers fired at it and the bullet hit the boat operator who died in the spot.
“The soldiers later approached the boat and discovered that the dead driver was harmless.
“They took the remains to a morgue in Yenagoa, the state capital.”