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3 dead, policemen, several injured as youths, Police clash in Bayelsa

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Femi Folarnmi, Yenagoa

The crisis rocking Amassoma, host community of Niger Delta University (NDU) and late former governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha community, got to its head, on Tuesday, as policemen and some youths clashed leading to three people being feared dead.

Investigations indicated that some policemen and several people mainly youths and women, protesting the re-opening of the school without definite pronouncements on the fate of the retired workers of the University were injured.

Representatives of the Bayelsa State Government, NDU governing council, council of chiefs of Amassoma community and other stakeholders had met over the weekend where a truce was reached for the school to be reopened while the issue of the retired workers would be looked into.

Apparently not satisfied with resolution of the meeting the youths of Amassoma had vowed that they would not allow the school to be reopened and when a combined team of armed security operatives forcefully opened the school, the youths and women of the community regrouped in their numbers marched to the school gate to confront the security operatives.

Findings revealed that the security operatives overwhelmed by the numbers of the protesters, fired teargas and later bullets at them causing pandemonium.

“They first retreated into the premises of the University and called for reinforcement. Later they started shooting teargas and bullets at the protesters. Many were injured and about three persons were shot and they are feared dead. They were rushed to the hospital,” an eyewitness account said.

The Bayelsa State Police Command has, however, said nobody was shot noting that it was Policemen that were attacked leading to the injury of one Police officer.

The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Donald Awunah was said to have called an emergency meeting of top Police officers on the NDU issue and seek ways for an amicable solution.

Meanwhile the Bayelsa state government has heaped the blame of the violence on the opposition party which it accused of arming youths of the community to attack security agencies.

In a statement, on Tuesday, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, blamed opposition political leaders for the mobilisation of the hoodlums who barricaded the gate and disrupted academic activities in the institution last week to protest the retirement of some overage and redundant personnel.

“The Bayelsa State Government has condemned in strong terms the violence unleashed on the Niger Delta University and its environs by some hoodlums who are funded, mobilised and armed by unscrupulous opposition political leaders. These mischief makers have mobilized, funded and armed hoodlums to disrupt academic activities in the school, and forcibly closed it down even when negotiations on the recent retirement of overage personnel of the institution have been concluded and agreements reached. These hoodlums have for the past one week stopped free movement of vehicles and persons on public roads. They disrupted conduct of businesses in and around Amassoma by putting canopies on major roads to pander to political interests who are desperate to tarnish the good image of the government.”

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