Sunday, December 4, 2022

Trigger-happy naval operatives open fire on journalist, humanitarian workers on Ondo waterways

The journalists and the officials were on their way from a free medical outreach in the riverine communities when they were attacked at Odofado.

• September 28, 2022
Navy officials used to illustrate the story

A commercial boat carrying a journalist and some officials of Ilaje Rural Development Committee (IRDC) came under fire by naval operatives on patrol in the Ondo riverine community on Wednesday.

Aderemi Bamgbose, a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), and the IRDC officials were on their way from a free medical outreach in the riverine communities when they were attacked at Odofado.

IRDC is a community-based organisation, established in 2005 to bring succour to residents of the area through initiation of various programmes and projects, under the sponsorship of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).

The boat occupied by the journalist and the IRDC officials were among those flagged down by the naval personnel on patrol on the waterways.

Although the boat slowed down for the security agents before it later moved, the military operatives inexplicably became incensed and began to shoot sporadically in anger.

The shooting caused panic on the waterways and among the residents of the community, while passengers in some of the boats within the vicinity scampered for safety.

The situation also forced residents of the community to troop out to condemn the action of the naval personnel.

As the driver of the boat sped to the creeks, the naval personnel pursued him to a halt, with the officials running in different directions for dear lives while, in the process, the NAN journalist sustained some injuries.

The naval operatives, who failed to listen to anybody, then seized and took away the boat along with the personal effects of the occupants.

Andrew Imese, IRDC’s Welfare Officer, condemned the actions of the naval personnel, saying it was wrong for them to shoot the officials, as they were not criminals.

“What is our offence? They flagged us down; we complied and later moved, but they began to pursue us, shooting sporadically as if we are criminals.

“We only escaped death by whiskers. This is condemnable, particularly coming from the operatives of a responsible and professional organisation as the Nigerian Navy,” Mr Imisie said.

Efforts by NAN to speak with the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy (FOB), Navy Captain Shuaib Muhammed-Ahmed, proved abortive as calls made to his phones were not going through.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 600 residents from the riverine communities of Odofado and Awoye benefited from the free medical outreach, organised by IRDC and sponsored by NNPC/Chevron joint ventures.

Residents of the riverine communities were treated for various diseases, such as malaria, typhoid, hypertension, arthritis, skin diseases and cough, among others.

Coordinator of the programme, Nimbe Tawoshe, said that core medical experts, including doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists and pharmacists were involved in the medical outreach.

He expressed satisfaction with the turnout of the residents, in spite of the rain, to ensure they were diagnosed and treated.

Mr Tawoshe expressed appreciation to IRDC and NNPC/Chevron for the adequate attention given to the health of the people. 


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