From Ben Dunno, Warri
The bodies of four marine policemen allegedly killed about two weeks ago by suspected militants along the Benin River in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State were recovered yesterday.
A police search team deployed to the area recovered the bodies of the policemen killed by suspected militants involved in illegal oil bunkering.
It was reported that the business deal between the militants and the marine police guarding the area went sour, as the militants could not keep their own part of the settlement agreement.
Investigations by this correspondent revealed that, in a bid to get rid of the policemen who were beginning to threaten their operations within the axis, the militants lured the police patrol team to their hideout to collect the money but they were ambushed and four of the officers were killed and their bodies dumped in the river.
Although no militant group has claimed responsibility for the act, it was gathered that the attackers were heavily armed.
Sources said that a search party was constituted to find the remains of the officers, and the bodies of the four marine policemen were recovered at a location after Aruwun community without the 150-horse power outboard engine that they used in the ill-fated trip.
According to a source, “the heavily-armed militants, at about midnight, invited the policemen, led by one Aghoro, to come to their hideout and collect money to allow the militants to carry out their illegal bunkering activities. The team leader then proceeded on the trip to meet the callers in the creeks, taking along with him four other officers that night.
“Mr. Aghoro took out the only patrol boat at their Sapele Marine Police Unit with four others and ventured into the sea at about 2:30am without a back-up patrol boat, even though the police authorities had ordered that any patrol boat must have back-up before moving out for any operation.”
The source further disclosed that on sighting a boat at sea, and having identified that they were the police officers they had earlier invited, the suspected militants moved closer to the boat and opened fire on the officers, killing four of them on the spot.
However, the fifth policeman who survived the attack with severe gunshot injuries is said to be recuperating in a private hospital in Sapele.
The bodies of the dead policemen, identified as Aghoro (commander), Sagay, Andrew and Mejer, are currently lying at both the Sapele and Warri General Hospital morgues.
It was learnt that the bullet-riddled patrol boat that was sunk by the militants has been taken to Abiugborodo community under the care of soldiers at the military post.
Meanwhile, the Sapele Unit Commander has been under arrest since the incident for negligence of duty.
Delta State Police Commissioner, Ibrahim Zanna, confirmed the incident but declined further comments, referring our correspondent to the Marine Police Command in Warri for more details.