The Bayelsa government on Thursday condemned the attack on operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state by suspected militants engaged in oil theft.
The condemnation was contained in a press statement issued by Mr Doubara Atasi, Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
This followed a meeting at Government House by NSCDC officials, community leaders and stakeholders from the area at Government House, Yenagoa.
Yet to be identified gunmen had ambushed and attacked a team of NSCDC personnel and engaged them in a gun duel leading to loss of weapons and ammunition and the abduction of one of the personnel.
The members of the Amabulou community, however, rescued the NSCDC personnel who had been disarmed while the suspected militants escaped with their arms.
The state government, according to the statement, said it would not hesitate to wield the big stick against any community found culpable of aiding and abetting crime and criminality in the state.
The deputy governor enjoined community leaders to work closely with security agencies to identify and expose the criminal elements within the community in order to improve on the prevailing peace.
Ewhrudjakpo emphasised the need for effective collaboration between community leaders, security agencies and the government to safeguard lives and property .
He said stakeholders, including traditional rulers, youth leaders and community development committee (CDC) chairmen, have critical roles to play for any security arrangement to succeed.
Ewhrudjakpo assured the NSCDC that the government would leave no stone unturned to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.
He warned that the government would deal decisively with community leaders who provide a haven for pipeline vandals, pirates and other criminals to carry out their operations.
“Our community leaders should understand that they also have a lot of responsibilities. As a CDC chairman, you have a duty to protect government facilities in your community. Your duty as youth president includes identifying criminal elements in the community and reporting them to the CDC chairman, the ruler, elders of the community and even security agencies, and not to share in royalties.” Ewhrudjakpo said.
The statement quoted the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, CP Akpoebi Agberebi (Rtd), as applauding the community for the rescue efforts, as well as condemning the attack on the NSCDC officials.
Atasi also quoted the state Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Commandant Christiana Abiakam-Omanu, for commending the good-hearted indigenes of Amabulou who helped to rescue some of her personnel.
According to the statement, Abiakam-Omanu noted that the NSCDC enjoyed cordial relations with the community and this led to the rescue operation.
He said the people pledged to work with them in tracing those behind the criminal act to bring them to book.