The Rivers State Police Command has lost four of its men, including an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), in a gun attack by armed hoodlums suspected to be sea pirates. The policemen were said to be on patrol on the Abonema Wharf in Port Harcourt, when the masked pirates suddenly appeared and opened fire on them.
However, the only survivor of the attack, who was in the patrol boat with the other four, was said to have fallen into the river and swam to safety.
It was learnt that the hoodlums, said to be 24 in number, had came in four boats and laid ambush for the unsuspecting marine policemen, who were on a mission to prevent criminal activities in the Abonema Wharf and its environs.
The incident which was said to have occurred at about 3.00 p.m. caused panic as people in the area, on hearing the sound of gunshots from the pirates, scampered for safety.
A source at the scene of the incident said it was the first time such would happen, adding that the four policemen died before they could be rescued. “What I noticed was that the sea pirates had laid ambush for them (policemen). We learnt that one of the policemen killed was an Assistant Superintendent of Police. In all, four of them were killed.
“There was serious panic at the Abonema Wharf when the incident happened as people ran helter-skelter when they heard the loud sound of gunshots. It was noticed that policemen were shot and killed after the situation had calmed down,” he said.
There was a lull in activities at the Abonema Wharf after the incident, even as the Joint Military Taskforce, Operation Pulo Shield, had moved into the area to prevent a recurrence.
A security source said the pirates had shifted base from Calabar, River State, to Port Harcourt, as they could not stand the heat and pressure mounted on them by the police in their former base.
When contacted, the Rivers police spokesperson, DSP Ahmad Muhammad, did not give details, but simply said in a text message, “what I have now is a sketchy detail.”
By Pita Ochai