It also called for a full-scale investigation to ensure that the perpetrators of the act are brought to book.
In a statement by the state government issued by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, the government expressed regret over the unfortunate incident, describing it as “unwarranted, barbaric and totally unacceptable.’’
The troops were attacked by suspected militants who laid ambush for them at Letugbene in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa last Monday.
While earlier reports indicated that four soldiers and a civilian attached to the OPDS were killed, the spokesman for the outfit, Major Ibrahim Abdullahi, after being silent for five days, stated on Friday that the JTF lost one soldier and one civilian attached to their Military Houseboat.
According to Obuebite, from every account and information available to the government, there was no form of dispute or contending issue to have warranted an attack on soldiers carrying out their legitimate duties.
He noted that it was purely an act of criminality, deliberately carried out to rubbish the security and peace efforts of the state government.
Obuebite said, “For us, this incident is a politically-motivated and sponsored by some persons in high places to heat up the state for their selfish interests. As a government, we will not fold our arms and allow a few individuals to rubbish the peace and security we have been able to bring to our state.
‘’We will support the security agencies in whichever way possible in carrying out their investigations in this matter.”
Also, an Ijaw youth leader and Chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, Central Zone, Mr. Tare Porri, condemned the killings, describing the attack as “bizarre and unprovoked.’’
Porri said the soldiers were killed in cold blood, adding that his zonal leadership would meet to discuss the issue and other problems affecting the zone.
He expressed worry that the incident had made the OPDS to begin a military operation in Letugbene and Ebelabiri.
In a similar vein, a human rights group, the Patriotic Citizens of Nigeria, bemoaned the killings, describing the continued attacks on security personnel on the waterways as “shocking and despicable.’’
PACON, in a statement by its convener, Mr. Aluzu Augustine, said such development was dangerous to the present peace and development in the Niger Delta.
But the military outfit, in its reaction on Friday, dispelled the insinuation that four soldiers and one civilian were killed in the incident.
Abdullahi, in a statement, said only one gallant soldier and a civilian worker attached to the troops’ military houseboat lost their lives.
He said, “This statement is to put to rest the exaggerated speculation on an incident involving our troops and suspected militants on August 28, 2017 near Letugbene community in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State.
“During the firefight, one gallant soldier and a civilian staffer attached to the military houseboat paid the supreme price for defending their fatherland as against reports of four soldiers were killed. A rescue team supported by gunboats was immediately dispatched to the area and they were able to locate and support two other soldiers who engaged the militants.’’
Abdullahi said the current operations in the creeks and rivulets around the general area were ‘surgical operations’ designed to fish out the perpetrators of that dastardly act, some of whom he said fled to neighbouring communities.