Armed soldiers invaded three Bayelsa communities yesterday, allegedly destroying over 43 houses and carting away three speed boats.
The raid on the communities – Peremabiri, Akamabugo and Tikogbene in Southern Ijaw Local Government Council Area -is believed to be part of special Operation Crocodile Smile being carried out by the military against insurgents in the oil rich Niger Delta region.
Governor Henry Seriake Dickson had cautioned the Federal Government against the deployment of troops, noting that the Niger Delta problems cannot be solve by confrontation, aggression, use of force, show of military strength and brutality.
One of the Communities, Peremabiri , is the country home of a front line former militant leader, Comrade Eris Paul popularly known along the creeks and waterways as General Ogunboss.
However, concerned indigenes of Peremabiri Community have fingered some influential politicians in People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state as pushing for the invasion.
According to eyewitnesses, the soldiers numbering over 50 said they were searching for suspected members of the Niger Delta Avengers and ended up beating up two youth leaders, Pastor Lucky and Bernard Ogunawei, into a state of coma
While Bernard was later released with grievious injuries, Pastor Lucky was arrested and taken to an unknown destination.
Also destroyed in the attack were family homes of General Ogunboss, Million Gobo, Richard Marcus, Elkenah, Bernard Osunawei and many others.
General Ogunboss in his reaction said preliminary investigation by his kinmen revealed that the invasion was ordered by PDP chieftains following the political loyalty of the community to the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the last Governorship election in the state.
Ogunboss disclosed that many of the youths and women have fled Peremabiri to other communities.
He condemned the excessive use of security personnel to intimidate and brutalise the people of the community and called on the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the invasion.
“The people of Peremabiri are not known to be involved in criminality. And have never had any relationship with the Niger Delta Avengers. The Peremabiri people will never allow the PDP and the State Government to intimidate them under any guise. We have the right to support the political party we want.”