Saturday Sun gathered that the genesis of the bloody violence was an earlier squabble between PDP and APC supporters which resulted in the use of dangerous weapons
Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
By the time the bullets stopped, two people were confirmed dead and several others who sustained life-threatening injuries were rushed to the hospital. What had started as a normal day on August 20 in Twon Brass, Brass local government area of Bayelsa state ended on a sad note due to the political rivalry between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which dates back to 2015 when Hon Israel Sunny-Goli of the APC defeated the then incumbent deputy speaker, Hon Sam Ateki of the PDP in the House of Assembly election and repeated the feat in the governorship election.
How it began
Saturday Sun gathered that the genesis of the bloody violence was an earlier squabble between PDP and APC supporters which resulted in the use of dangerous weapons, forcing the PDP supporters to run out of town to neighbouring Okpoama community. It was learnt that the Council of Chiefs waded into the crisis and sued for peace after which the PDP supporters were asked to return home from Okpoama.
Sources said the PDP supporters returned and decided to stay at the Government Consulate, which serves as the residential quarters of the Council Chairman. It was from there an alleged attack was launched on a known APC supporter, Moses Blacky by the PDP supporters in conjunction with suspected thugs from Odioma community and suspected militants from Southern Ijaw local government.
“I was at Imbikiri close to the Council Chairman, Hon Victor Isaiah residence when some boys came to attack me with machetes and dealt me machete blows to my knee. It’s by the grace of God that I am still alive. I was immediately taken to the jetty and a boat brought me to Yenagoa where I was taken to the Federal Medical Centre” Blacky told Saturday Sun.
If Blacky was lucky, Peter George and Kelvin Ikurusi were unlucky as they were allegedly killed by bullets fired at them when APC supporters stormed Isaiah’s house to apprehend those who attacked Blacky.
“The attack on Blacky infuriated APC loyalists and they mobilized to the lodge to confront them for breaching the peace agreement. The PDP boys opened fire on them and killed two people” Sunny-Goli told Saturday Sun.
The PDP’s version of the story was however different as it stated that violence broke out over a failed assassination attempt on Isaiah. According to Samuel, a PDP member, APC caused the crisis.
“Few days ago, some suspected armed APC youths attacked the local government council aide and PDP youths. Now, they attempted to assassinate the caretaker Chairman of the Council which failed as members of Brass Volunteer in the community resisted them” he said.
SOS to IGP
With the score, APC has now been thrown into mourning over the death of its two members. Kenson Sorboi who also escaped death said the intention of the boys brought into the community by the PDP was to chase all APC members away from the area.
Sunny-Goli in an interview explained that the crisis was instigated to scuttle his planned declaration for the Nembe/ Brass Federal constituency seat. According to him, the PDP is uncomfortable with the large followership APC enjoys in Brass and so wants to intimidate APC supporters ahead of the 2019 election.
“During the 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa state, it is on record that APC delivered votes against all odds. Even with all the lies that were told about our activities, nobody died and APC won. We have had so many LGA Chairmen in Brass before Mr Victor Isaiah. Since Isaiah assumed office as the caretaker committee Chairman, it has been one crisis to the other. We had it on good authority that his appointment was premised on his assurance that he would chase all APC supporters away as if it is a war zone. Politics is not war. This is democracy, if you have the number you win and if you don’t have the number you lose. My people are satisfied with my performance and anyway, it would be an uphill task for the PDP to win Brass, it is not possible. I don’t really know what the PDP wants; this is the height of it all. This is the height of political desperation” he said.
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Sunny-Goli in an emotion laden voice disclosed that he has put the planned declaration on hold to mourn the souls of his departed supporters, adding that this time; justice must take its course.
“This time around we would ensure justice takes its course. All the lies that they are peddling, it is now confirmed that APC people were killed and we would get justice for them, this cannot be covered up. The people that died have their families and they are seeking justice. Since the Police said it knows those behind the attack, let it arrest them and let the people see that justice is done. The aggressors are the ones making noise to cover up their crime. All these are to make Brass unsafe because of my planned declaration. They know that Brass people would categorically declare their support for APC during my declaration. They tried it during the Ultimate Praise Night held in December 2017 but they failed. We are mourning but we would surely get out of this. We are determined. No level of attack can intimidate the people to abandon the APC. All these unwarranted attacks are to intimidate the APC members but how many people can they kill, unless they (PDP) would kill the whole community. Now APC members are more determined than before to ensure victory for APC in all elections in 2019.”
We say no to violence
Another PDP chieftain in the area, Owei Benjamin accused APC supporters of mobilizing to the council chairman lodge with the intention to harm him. He said the resistance they met was an indication that the people would not condone violence, which is the hallmark of the APC as a party in the state.
“It has been established that armed youths loyal to the opposition APC invaded the chairman’s official lodge in an attempt to harm him. But little did they know the chairman wasn’t around. However, they were resisted by members of the Brass LGA volunteer. They caused the crisis and they should be arrested”
Isaiah in his reaction denied knowledge of any link to the attack on APC members adding that he has briefed appropriate quarters and reinforcement of armed policemen, military personnel and other security agencies has been approved to forestall a breakdown of law and order. He also said he has directed that a curfew be imposed in Brass till further notice.
A reliable security source said intelligence reports indicate that arms have been stockpiled in Brass and the security agents deployed to the community have been given the mandate to mop up all arms and ammunition in the area to nip all plans of violence in the bud.
The source explained that the arms build-up in Brass is also happening in the other seven local government areas because Bayelsa politicians are desperate over the 2019 elections and it would take diligent efforts by security agencies to prevent a large scale violence that might erupt in the state.