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Bayelsa: Police, Armed Youths in gun battle


The Police in Bayelsa State , on Friday night, engaged unidentified armed youths in a fierce gun battle that lasted for over 30 minutes. The police, however, responded to a distress call from an activist, Mr. Nengi James, who was under attack by unknown

James, is a prominent pro-democracy and human rights activist who has been very vociferous in calling on public functionaries at all levels in Bayelsa to account for their stewardship.

AkanimoReports gathered from the human rights community in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, that the Friday night attack on Mr. James, came as community cell groups in Nembe Local Government Area , are clamouring for their Council Chairman, Mr. Waribugo Sylva, to account for a N30 million bank loan he took.

Grassroots activists in Bayelsa, one of the richest oil and gas-producing states in the Niger Delta, are alleging that funds meant for grassroots development projects are being diverted for personal gains.

The emerging agitation at the local government level is that citizens want to know what the elected public officials have been doing with their monthly revenue allocations from Abuja , the country's Federal Capital Territory.

The agitation took a new dimension last week, with a flurry of largely unheard calls on the state Ministry of Finance to make public all funds so far collected by the local government councils in the state.

The l0cal agitators however, noted that while some of the eight constitutionally recognised local government councils have ''judiciously utilised'' their funds, ''others are looting their treasury with impunity''.

Concerned political foot soldiers in Nembe, are claiming that the legislative arm of their local government council gave approval for a loan deal of N20 million. How the loan profile rose to N30 million, is a puzzle they are finding hard to resolve.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) might have cause in future to wade into the financial deals of local government councils in Bayelsa.

In the mean time, the foiled attack on Nengi James in his Yenagoa resident took place at around between 7.30 and 8.00pm.

An eye-witness account has it that the activist was relaxing in his parlour when he was aroused by the intense barking of his security dogs. ''When he looked through the window, he saw three unknown gunmen try to force themselves into his house, while about five others took strategic positions to ensure that he did not escape alive'', the eye-witness said.

Apparently aware that his life was at stake, the activist put a distress call through to the Ekeki Police Division . According to our source, ''the police responded very swiftly''.

Our correspondent reports that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ekeki, Mr. Nimi Iwo, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), led his combat-ready men in a gun battle with the suspected assassins which lasted for over 30 minutes.

Efforts to get the attacked activist on telephone were not successful as none of his three mobile lines went through.

Meanwhile, the state Information Commissioner , Mr. Nathan Egba, told our correspondent on phone on Saturday: ''Local government councils are by law autonomous, state government liaise but cannot override what a council decides to do. Only the control mechanisms can determine if there is accountability or not''.

On the growing insecurity in the state, the commissioner had earlier said that government was rising to the challenge even as there is increased military and police presence on the streets of Yenagoa.  ENDS