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Killing of naval personnel: Military sacks, razes Bayelsa community

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The Palace of the Paramount Ruler of Bilabiri Kingdom, King Paul Brakere-Seide, was among houses razed yesterday during a military invasion of the Bilabiri I and Bilabiri II communities in Ekeremor Council of Bayelsa state two weeks after some military personnel were reportedly killed in the area.

It was gathered that the military stormed the community about 10am yesterday in about 16 gunboats, shooting sporadically into the air and burning down some selected houses in both communities, including the palace of the paramount ruler and those of suspected ex-militants.

Though were no report of any arrest or loss of life lost during the operation, which eyewitnesses said lasted for over three hours, forcing indigenes to flee to the forest for safety of their lives.

Confirming the development, Seide, in a telephone chat with newsmen, said he had to hide in the forest during the invasion.

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“We were all in my palace this morning when some of my subjects ran to me to informed me about military presence and asked us to run. I told them that I could not leave my palace, but they pressurised me to run, that they were over 16 military gunboats at the waterside.

“As soon as I left my palace, they came and burnt down my palace and that of my younger brother. They did not arrest anybody or leave any message. I have returned to my community to meet my palace burnt to ashes,” he explained.

Two days before the invasion, the leadership of Bilabiri II Community has alleged the existence of a syndicate parading themselves as leader of Bilabiri Kingdom, with the malicious intent to blackmail the community.

A statement by the leadership signed by the Chairman of Community Development Committee (CDC), Esau Darosha, and Chief Isaiah Couple, said the community had uncovered plans to blackmail him before the military.

They then called on the military authorities to always verify some of the claims and investigate their sources of information and urged the military, part the Central Naval Command, who lost their personnel to the unfortunate incident, to discountenance all information emanating from unscrupulous sources.

They stated: “We want to assure the military of maximum cooperation to locate and bring to book, perpetrators of this heinous crime. We must not condone the atrocities of disgruntled elements to avoid a repeat.

“We further restate our cordial relationship with the Nigerian military and all other security agencies.”

Attempts to get reactions from the military authorities were unsuccessful, as the mobile phone lines of the Central Naval Command spokesperson and his Joint Military Force counterpart were switched off.


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