Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has waded into the communal crisis rocking Amatolo community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and Okumbiri community in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
Crisis erupted at the weekend between the two communities which shared a common boundary resulting in destruction of property and forced many people to flee.
A disturbed Governor Henry Seriake Dickson was said to have wondered how the two communities that had co-existed for several years stretching back to old Rivers state would allow a crisis between them degenerate to the level of attacks and destruction of property.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, Dickson was quoted to have asked residents of the two communities that fled should return home as he has instructed security operatives to ensure the protection of everybody.
“I strongly condemn reports of violence between Amatolo and Okumbiri communities in the state.
“I am even more concerned knowing that these communities have been known to have a long tradition of keeping the peace.
“I have consequently directed the security agencies to ensure law and order is maintained in both communities and to protect the lives and property of every law-abiding indigenes. Those who fled should return to their communities as the security personnel will guarantee their safety.
“Government will also investigate the remote and immediate causes of the crisis and seek ways to resolve it.”
According to Governor Dickson, based on preliminary reports that cultists and hoodlums invaded the two munities to unleash mayhem, he has directed security agencies to fish them out.
Governor Dickson who noted his administration would continue to ensure peaceful co-existence between and among the different communities in the state.
He thanked the leadership of both communities for their effort to maintain peace and restore order adding that the government will meet with all parties involved, including the chairman of the council and the community leaders.
Meanwhile, deputy governor of the state Rear Admiral John Gboribiogha Jonah (rtd), held a meeting with representatives of the two communities, and members of the conflict resolution committee at the Government House, on Tuesday.
Sources at the meeting said the meeting was very fruitful as both communities agreed to maintain peace while the government work towards resolving the crisis amicably.