…We are investigating the matter – Navy

By Francis Sadhere

The people of Tebujor- Okpelema community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state have decried the alleged killing of their son, Mr. Bernard Pius, by men of the Nigerian Navy who they said was scooping sand by the waterside when the Navy Personnel shot him.

Commodore Raimi Mohammed, Commander, NNS Delta, addressing newsmen on the alleged killing of a middle-aged man in Gbaramatu Kingdom

Commodore Raimi Mohammed, Commander, NNS Delta, addressing newsmen on the alleged killing of a middle-aged man in Gbaramatu Kingdom.

Addressing newsmen today at the community, Mr. Godspower Gbenekama who was said to have been directed by the new monarch of Gbaramatu kingdom, His Majesty Naira Ogoba to wade into the matter to avert crisis, said the deceased whose wife is heavily pregnant was shot dead by the Navy Personnel when he was going home in his 40 horsepower capacity engine boat after finishing scooping sand by the riverside.

He said, ”The navy said people should not be using 200 horsepower and above engine boats in the creek, but Pius was using 40 horsepower to scoop sand for sale. They said we should not go out by night but there is no law that says people should not move at night. Our people are fishermen they go out a lot to fish in the night. ‘The army and navy should leave our land because they cannot guide the pipelines. In other communities, it is the communities that are given the responsibility of guarding the pipeline. But here the story is different.they cannot guide the pipeline,” he said.

He said that the corpse of the deceased had been deposited at a Mortuary in Warri.

The community leader of Tebujor-Okpelema, Mr. Moses Yabrade, urged the government to urgently intervene in the matter and ensure that the perpetrator is brought to book.

But in a swift reaction to the alleged killing, the Commander, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, Comdr. Raimi Mohammed said a full scale investigation is on to unravel the matter, adding that he cannot comment much on the matter until the conclusion of the investigation.

He however stressed that since he assumed duty as the Commander, his men have strictly being guided by the Standard Operating Procedure in dealing with civilians, adding that this was the first accident that was being reported since his assumption of office in Warri.

Comdr Mohammed said despite the volatility of the creeks, his men have maintained high professionalism in the process of carrying out their duty of securing the waterways, asserting his men might have acted within the limits of Standard Operating Procedures.

He added that there has been a curfew on the waterways which starts by 7pm since the incident of the last attack on oil facilities in the region, adding that the man in question was said to scooping sand along the riverside around 10pm when he was alleged to have been shot by his men.

”I cannot make a categorical statement now, but we have started investigating the matter. Since I assumed office in Warri, we have been operating in line with the Standard Operating Procedure and our operation had been very peaceful even though we are operating in a volatile environment.

”Since the blown-off of pipelines in January, we have maintain constant vigilance and also increase our patrol in the waterways.

Mohammed reaffirmed that measures were also put in place by the Navy to curb the excess of criminals sabotaging the national assets.

He said, ”Some of the measures taken were the restriction of the use of speed boats with 200 horsepower and above engine and restriction of night movement in the creek from 8:00pm. If there is urgent need for somebody to move in the night, they should stop when naval personnel flagged them down. Like I said, we are yet to gather the facts but I am sure my men acted according to the standard operating procedures.”

Comdr Mohammed added that leaders of the community have been invited by the Nigerian Navy as a way of settling the matter amicably.