Serious tension took over the Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, following a raid conducted by the military to mop up arms and flush out suspected criminals in the area.
According to The Nation, it was gathered that the military acted on intelligence that pirates and militants were hiding in the community and using some houses to stockpile arms and ammunition.
Some women from the community were said to have earlier staged a protest to stop what they perceived as an invasion but later withdrew and allowed the soldiers to carry out their operation
An elderly resident said a team of soldiers stormed his house saying they were looking for guns.
“They surrendered me and asked me to show them where guns were hidden in my house. I told them I had no guns. But they ransacked my house and later left for other places”, the source, who spoke in confidence said.
It was not, however, clear the number of arms and ammunition recovered from the exercise as well as the number of the people arrested by the soldiers.
But the people of Peremabiri said the effort by the military to flush out criminals and clear arms from their community was a welcome development.
They commended the Federal Government for coming to free them from the hands of a suspected notorious criminal gang terrorizing their community.
They said the action of the military had enabled them to breathe the air of freedom again claiming that the gang held them captive for so long.
The indigenes under the aegis of Peremabiri Development Association (PDA), in a communique issued after their emergency meeting in Yenagoa, said the gang was led by an ex-militant.
They complained that the ex-militant was trying to impose an unpopular leadership on them.
The indigenes in the communique reportedly signed by the Chairman of PDA, Chief Awolowo Wasiri; Secretary, Chief Profit Enoch and Publicity Secretary, Alfred Ikiomoye Olotu thanked the government for earlier arresting some of the suspects and arraigning them before a competent court.
They called on the security agencies to apprehend the criminal elements fleeing the community to permanently resolve the constant unrest in the area.
They explained that the women, who staged a protest because of the intervention by the military acted out of fear.
The statement reportedly said: “We are in support of the routine operation which took place in our community. Our joy is full because we have been living in bondage for so long. This has affected our lives as we live in fear everyday..
“The intervention has brought some relaxation in our community as we now move freely. We are excited because if not for the action of the military, they would have imposed an unpopular man as our paramount ruler.
“We have confidence in the federal government and so we appeal to them to go after the rest members of the gang to ensure that they never return to our community. Those women who protested did so because they were forced and not out of any loyalty”.