Published 4 September 2021

Otuasega community in the Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has alleged that three of its youths are missing after security operatives reportedly opened fire on them during a demonstration against the neglect of the Otuasega-Imiringi Road on Friday.

Trouble was said to have started when the protesting youths accosted the operators of a long haulage vehicle conveying a swamp buggy excavator through the Otuasega-Imiringi Road and demanded two tipper trucks of chippings to fill some bad portions of the deplorable road.

They alleged that the road was damaged by frequent plying by heavy-duty vehicular machines belonging to contractors working for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited in the area.

The placard-carrying protesters barricaded the SPDC gas line manifold along the Otuasega-Imiringi Road and threatened to shutdown the facility if their demand was not met.

It was gathered that while the negotiation for the chippings was ongoing, a surveillance contractor to the oil giant alerted the security personnel attached to a nearby SPDC facility who stormed the place and started shooting sporadically.

The incident caused panic and confusion as the community youths were said to have scampered in different directions for fear of being hit by bullets fired by the security operatives.

The Chairman of Otuasega Community Development Community, Marcus Raniya, claimed that three youths had not been found since the dust of the commotion settled.

Narrating the incident, he said, “We discovered that the heavy-duty vehicular machines have really destroyed the road so we only pleaded with the Shell contractors to come and pour chipping on the road.

“While we were still discussing, a particular man who is always seen around where the soldiers are guarding Shell gas line, a surveillance man that is doing the gas work, left and came back with two soldiers and one NSCDC officer and shot at us indiscriminately.

“As we speak to you, three of our community boys are still missing, we don’t know their whereabouts. While searching for them in the bush, we only saw a cellphone belonging to one of them.

“We are demanding our missing youths and the soldiers that shot at them. I had gone to the Shell camp and complained what has happened to the commander there and he said he was sorry over what has happened and promised to call the commander at the gas line.

“But when I got to the gas line, the commander there said he did not know me and that he was not going to discuss with me.”

The community youth president, Moses Ogubio, described the incident as unfortunate and called on the state and federal governments to intervene in the matter and ensure justice for peace to reign.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Asinim Butswat, said the State Police Command had not received any report on the incident and directed our correspondent to the NSCDC and military formations in the state.

The spokesman for the State Command of NSCDC, Solomon Ogbere, denied there was shooting at the scene, saying that security personnel only dispersed the protesters who blocked the road and demanded money from the SPDC contractors.