Police in Bayelsa announced on Sunday that they have recovered the corpses of four officers declared missing after a gunboat crushed a surveillance boat conveying them on the state’s waterways on July 25.
The remains of the slain policemen have been deposited at the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
Also, Operations Manager of Darlon Oil and Gas Limited, an oil surveillance firm, Mr Odi Lyon, identified as the younger brother of a former All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Bayelsa, David Lyon, also died in the incident.
The state police command had earlier explained through a statement by its spokesman, Asinim Butswat, that the surveillance boat conveying the deceased officers capsized at Korokorosei in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state on the fateful day.
It stated, “One policeman’s body was recovered while three are still missing…The command is yet to establish the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate incident. Divers have been deployed to the area for possible rescue of the missing persons.”
But speaking on the recovery of the four corpses, the Commissioner of Police, Benjamin Okolo, blamed the incident on pipeline vandals.
He said, “They (slain officers) intercepted some vandals and burnt some equipment used for vandalism. Preparing to return to base, the boat, which is a gunboat with unidentified people, most likely these vandals, ran into them with the intention to get them capsized.
“And in the process, the civil mobile policemen, who were onboard the speedboat that was taking them for the surveillance, capsized and fell into the water. Three swarm to safety but four couldn’t make it, including one of the personnel of Darlon Company. But finally, all the bodies have been recovered.”
The Bayelsa police boss said the Inspector-General of Police and the entire police family were saddened by the huge loss that resulted from the incident.
It was, however, learnt that the gunboat that ran into the surveillance boat conveying the deceased officers and the civilian was allegedly operated by another team of policemen escorting a dredger.
The source, who spoke in confidence, claimed that the officers had escorted the dredger to anchor at Ogboinbiri, also in Southern Ijaw, and were returning when their gunboat allegedly crushed the surveillance boat of the victims.
But Okolo dismissed the account of the source as “lies and untrue”, insisting that the survivors of the incident confirmed it was carried out by the vandals with a view to killing the occupants of the surveillance boat.