Bonny River: Military Chopper Did Not Shoot At Passengers Cargo Boat, Rather, They Were Criminals – Defence Headquarters
Nigeria Defence Headquarters has issued a statement claiming that those the military Helicopter shot out at Bonny River in Port Harcourt were not passengers on a boat that convey mainly foodstuffs; rather they were criminals conveying illegally refined crude oil products.
The military in a statement signed by Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, the Director of Defence Information and made available yesterday said the military helicopter encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called “Cotonou Boat” and the boat was escorted by 2 speedboats, soldiers in the chopper fired a warning shot but the suspects retaliated, and thereafter the soldiers engaged them, making the two speed boats to detach from the Cotonou boat at a high speed and the Cotonou boat was neutralized.
Contrary to the military statement, a victim of the helicopter gun attack, Paul Jacob in an interview with Kristiana Reports at his hospital bed at Okrika in the Okrika Local Government of the State, said he was traveling alongside his collagues who work in one of the local wooden cargo boats on Thursday Afternoon August 26, 2021, precisely at the Dutch Island fishing settlement area, a military chopper fired at them, mistaking them for conveying illegally refined petroleum products.
Paul Jacob said immediately the soldiers on the Helicopter heard the screaming of their voice, they ran away leaving him with gun injury on his leg and hand injury on a co passenger he described as an Hausa man.
Paul Jacob said the engine of their boat developed fault mid way in the Bonny river and called for replacement which the company sent rescue boat and the engine was replaced, soon afterward, they started hearing gun shot from the air.
He said he never knew what was going on until his superior in the boat laid down flat for safety and his leg sustained gun shot injury.
Excerpts of the military statement and one of the victims, Paul Jacob presented thus:
The attention of the military has been drawn to a purported report by some print and online media stating that “the military fired at a cargo boat conveying people and food stuff from Port Harcourt to Bonny”. This report is false and calls to question the credibility of the online news medium.Military statement reads.
Contrary to the report, the Air Component of the Joint Task Force Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) recieved reports from ground troops who were on clearance operations but encountered resistance at the point of encounter. On receiving the report a combat helicopter was despatched to provide close air support mission along the Cawthorne Channel.
The helicopter encountered an illegal oil bunkerers’ boat popularly called “Cotonou Boat”. The boat which was being escorted by 2 speedboats was suspected to be carrying illegally refined oil products in large drums along the Channel in the direction of OPDS patrol boats. On sighting the boat, warning shots were fired to dissuade the crew from hostile action. The crew fired back at the helicopter and the boat was engaged accordingly.
The 2 speedboats detached from the convoy at high speed leaving the “Cotonou Boat” which was neutralised. The helicopter later went after the 2 speedboats but was unable to track it. The suspects are still at large and a manhunt has been sent out to apprehend them.
The military remains a professional institution that operates in line with best practices through the application of rule of engagement and code of conduct. It is also positioned to protect the populace rather than victimising them. Efforts by anyone to protect criminality by disparaging the actions of the Military in preventing economic sabotage and other sundry crimes need to be condemned by all.
The general public is therefore enjoined to disregard the report and continue providing accurate information to troops that will lead to the attainment of own operational mandate of safeguarding lives, properties as well as government assets in the South South region.
What is your name, Sir?Paul Jacob said in an interview with Kristiana reports
Anyugu-Biri from Okrika.
What really happened?
As we were coming after loading the boat – we have starting coming – so, we got to the open river, the next thing we observed was that our engine got bad. So, we called back to the office for replacement of our engine which they were bringing. While we were waiting the water was floating the boat on the sea. As they brought the engine, we exchanged and started driving towards our destination. In the course of that, there was failure in the pump part of the engine.
So, you mean you were going to Bonny?
Yes, we were going to Bonny, we are carrying people’s load, garri, rice, etc. to Bonny before the thing happened.
What or who really shot at you?
This is an airplane just shot us that they feel it was an illegal modular refinery boats. But as they heard a shout-out from the passengers for help they zoomed off.
You mean once they heard ‘Help!’ they ran?
How many of you sustained injuries?
Just me and one Hausa boy but he just sustained an injury on his hand but me on my leg.
Was there any loss of life?
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