A 20-year old man, Blessing Amakiri, who hailed from Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State was on Thursday killed during a shootout between policemen and alleged cultists in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The incident, which occurred around 4.30 p.m. at the Ovom axis of Yenagoa, created heightened tension in the state capital, according to residents. Some residents reported that the gunfire led them and others to flee the area for safety.
Our sources said Mr. Amakiri, who was visiting the area, died immediately he was hit by a police bullet. Residents said the police initially abandoned the remains of the deceased at the scene, but returned later to remove the corpse.
“Why should the police leave the corpse of a man their bullet killed?” one eyewitness queried. He added that he and other residents were outraged by the development, especially since lots of children reside in the area where the shooting occurred. He added, “I wonder why they left the corpse but went ahead to arrest many young men after using their koboko [whips] to flog both boys and girls mercilessly.”
Two sources said the violence erupted after three policemen from the ‘A’ Division arrived in the area, notorious for drug, cultism and other crimes, to arrest a suspect. Some suspected cultists confronted the police officers and demanded that they leave the area. When the police refused to leave, the suspected cultists began to attack them with stones and broken bottles.
As the attack was in progress, a senior police officer arrived on the scene and ordered the policemen to go after the cultists. The order reportedly escalated the confrontation, sparking a gun battle between the police and the cultists.
The police public relations officer in Bayelsa, Asinim Butswat, confirmed the incident. The police spokesman said the shootout occurred while the police responded to a distress call on a clash between rival cult groups, Icelanders and Greenlanders.
Mr. Butswat said Mr. Amakiri’s mother had identified his corpse, adding that the deceased had been deposited in a morgue at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Yenagoa. He said an investigation had been opened into the incident.
The police spokesman also disclosed that two persons were arrested and were currently in detention over the bloody event. According to him, the result of the investigation would be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further action.