From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Two people were feared dead on Friday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital when a combined team of Soldiers, Police, Department of State Security and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) operatives foiled an attempt by heavily armed militants to disrupt the All Progressives Congress (APC) stakeholders meeting called by the new acting Chairman, Mr Joseph Fafi.
The National Vice- Chairman, South- South, Prince Ntufam Hillard Eta had issued a letter of authority to Fafi to act as Chairman following the expulsion from the party of the former Chairman, Chief Tiwei Orunimighe following which Fafi called a stakeholders meeting at the party secretariat to deliberate on the way forward.
Saturday Sun gathered that Fafi had briefed security agencies of the stakeholders meeting and had requested for maximum security to protect party members following threats that militants would disrupt the meeting.
Party members were still arriving at the secretariat when some loyalists of Orunimighe armed with placards approached the secretariat from Bay Bridge road and unknown to the policemen that the placard carrying protesters was a decoy. While the protesters were being questioned, suddenly suspected militants opened fire at the policemen from a bus.
A member of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon Israel Sunny- Goli representing Brass constituency 1, who was addressing some APC members on the road was shielded by some of his supporters and dragged into a nearby shop to escape the bullets being fired.
In the ensuring pandemonium, many people including journalists were injured while trying to jump the fence of the secretariat. The security agents on duty led by the Police successfully repelled the attack while soldiers deployed to the scene tracked the bus but the militants escaped.
Saturday Sun findings indicated that bullets hit the two persons who were feared killed during the gunfire. While one of the victims simply identified as Collins was member of the APC from Sagbama local government area, the other whose lifeless body was found at Bay Bridge junction was identified as a bitter kola hawker.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr Asuquo Amba who later came to the secretariat in company with the Director of DSS, Mr Segun Agbaje in an interview confirmed only one death.
According to him, the situation would have been bloodier if the police had not been proactive to deploy enough men to the secretariat to prevent the militants attack.
He said investigations are ongoing and the police would ensure the militants behind the attack are brought to book.
Meanwhile APC leaders led by former governor Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and Hon Sunny- Goli have condemned the attempt by militants to intimidate APC members in the state.
Sylva speaking while presenting Fafi to members of the party after a closed-door meeting with other leaders said the gunmen that attacked the party secretariat were cowards. According to him, the bad days of the party where the state leadership was trading with the party is over.
Lokpobiri in his remarks urged the party members not to allow themselves to be intimidated noting that the APC as a democratic party followed due process in the removal of the former chairman.
Sunny- Goli called on the security agencies in the state to investigate the incident and ensure that those responsible for the deaths are brought to book.
“The APC members can not be intimidated in Bayelsa State. We know and we believe that the party is on the path of rebuilding and enthronement of peace within its fold. The sponsors of the attack will be brought to book”, he said.