Hundreds of All Progressives Congress members and its supporters took to the streets of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, in protest over the alleged killings of its party faithful in the state by the opposition.
Led by the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, the protesters marched through the major roads of the state capital to the headquarters of the state police command.
Sylva, the All Progressives Congress leader in Bayelsa and Lokpobiri, along with their supporters, commenced the demonstration at the party secretariat, around Kpansia, Yenagoa, through the Mbiama-Yenagoa road, culminating at the police headquarters.
Both politicians listed the alleged killing of their loyalists in Brass, Yenagoa and recently in Sagbama, as the reason for their protest maintaining that the police had failed to bring the culprits to book.
Some hoodlums had at the weekend invaded Tungbari, Sagbama, during an APC rally where a 32-year old man was killed while several others were injured.
One other person was killed at Famgbw community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, immediately after a PDP rally in the area.
Sylva accused the new Police Commissioner, Mr Aminu Saleh of partisanship in his handling of security matters in the state, urging him to ensure that both party loyalists are protected.
He said, “We have been watching the scenario where members of our party are being attacked while we are canvassing for votes, two of them were killed recently in Nembe and we reported the incidents but the police is not doing enough.
“We are here to send a strong message to the Police Command and Inspector General of Police that the persecution and killing of our members in Bayelsa is not acceptable.
“On Saturday, one of our members who was attacked during a rally in Sagbama died, and we are here today to register our displeasure.
“We demand that the police should be fair in their duties to avoid a situation where those denied security would resort to protecting themselves if the police cannot”.
In his comments, Lokpobiri urged the police to be thorough in its investigations of the cases reported by the party as faithful of the party were awaiting justice.
He said that as law abiding Nigerians, the party leaders had prevailed on members to exercise restraint and report issues of violence to law enforcement agencies.
“We have only one Nigeria police. To prove us wrong(that the police are not partisan) you have to effect the arrest of those responsible for the killings in Sagbama, Brass and Yenagoa.
“Even as a serving senator, spurious allegations were made against me and I was arrested within 24 hours. The police did their preliminary investigation before I was released” he said.
In his reaction to the accusations, Mr Saleh, the new CP, dismissed the allegations that the police in the state was biased, insisting that the force had been fair to all parties.
“The Nigeria Police is a federal institution and the command under my watch in Bayelsa is poised to be fair to all in the discharge of our duty, I am aware of the allegations and counter allegations even before my deployment.
“We shall look into the cases even the ones reported before my arrival. The problem we have is that while a case is being investigated it is not strategic to keep it in the public domain, but it does not mean that we are not working.
“On the killing of Saturday, we are already working on it and arrests have been made and I hereby assure you that once we conclude our investigations, we shall brief the general public about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the people of Tungbabiri community, where the 32 years old man was killed had absolves PDD led government Bayelsa state of complicity in the killing of the young man.
The community leaders and youths including the caretaker Chairman of the community, Michael Magbisa, Paramount ruler of the community, Godbless Fetomfa and the youth president, Ebimene Embikoro, all condemned the act and want the culprits brought to book.
The Council Chairman, Micheal Magbisa, who commiserated with the widow and family of the late APC supporter, told journalists that the act was an act of criminality which everyone must condemn.
He said, “I condemn the death and the violence in its totality. This man who died is my third cousin. When I heard immediately, I contacted the youths and the women, but let me be clear that this is not a party matter.
Also in a statement, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, called on the security agencies to investigate the violence that rocked the Tungbabiri Community.
Dickson stated in a statement by his Director of Strategic Communications, Chief Nathan Egba-Ologo, that the security agencies , especially the police should investigate and bring all the culprits involved in the violence that led to the killing of a citizen in the area to book.