Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has inaugurated a six-member panel of enquiry on the killings that took in Nembe-Ogbolamabiri Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State during a botched rally of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on November 13.
Over 20 people were reportedly killed, with 93 others, including bystanders, injured during the incident which the PDP leadership accused leaders of the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) party of masterminding.
The APC has since denied the allegation.
Dickson, who decried political violence and brigandage, said those that were wounded are receiving medical attention at designated hospital across the state.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, who quoted Dickson’s statements during the inauguration of the panel at the Government House, added that the Governor was displeased that armed militia men shot and mowed down PDP members and innocent bystanders indiscriminately, with no resistance from security forces who reportedly looked the other way.
He said it was the first time in the political history of the state that a campaign rally would be ambushed and party members mowed down in an unprovoked situation.
The Governor accused security operatives, particularly the Nigerian Army, of aiding and abetting criminality during the fraught election.
Dickson noted that the panel was not intended to indict anyone, adding that its terms of reference includes collating the number of the dead, their names and their families, and the number of buildings destroyed in the attack.
“The Nigerian state has outsourced our territories in Bayelsa to criminals and warlords and the state is actually at a turning point. Nembe leaders need to know that they have set a record. Members of the opposition parties, particularly APC, have been going round without any molestations and attacks. However, it is sad to note that members of the same party now turned around in Nembe to unleash violence on the campaign train of the PDP,” the statement read.
The panel has as its Chairman retired Commissioner of Police, Akpoebi Agberebi, Vice Chairman, Dr Pabara Igwelle, Mrs Dise Ogbise-Ehisere, Archbishop Jacob Akpiri, and one representative each from the Department of State Services and State Public Prosecution.
Agberebi, in his acceptance speech described Dickson as a peace loving leader who has promoted policies and programmes aimed at sustaining peace in the state.
Meanwhile, the committee has issued a statement on its programme commencing with a visit to the injured at the various hospitals in which they have been admitted.
The statement signed by Agberebi indicated that the committee would have a public hearing between Wednesday, the 4th and Friday, the 6th of December. He advised relatives of victims killed to come with death certificates, medical discharge certificates and evidence of property damaged.
“Victims and their relatives are advised to take advantage of the panel visits and public sittings to ensure that all deaths, missing persons, injuries and damage to properties are recorded for posterity,” he said.