Though the motive for the attack could not be immediately ascertained, a security source told our correspondent that the hoodlums might have embarked on the mission with a view to stealing arms to perpetrate their nefarious activities on the waterways.
The incident, the latest in the series of attacks in the state’s troubled creeks, again brought to the fore the dangers faced by travellers plying the waterways.
Boat drivers and their passengers plying the waterways have repeatedly come under attacks with some losing their valuables and lives.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the soldiers were taken unawares by the gunmen who stormed the base in four speedboats and opened fire from two flanks (land and water).
The (hoodlums) took advantage of the dark night to launch the vicious attack and stole rifles of the slain operatives as well as two HP Guns and other arms from the base before disappearing into the mangrove creek.
“We were jolted from our sleep by the sound of heavy gunshots and, when the sound died down, we heard that some sea pirates attacked the JTF base,” a source in the area said.
The JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Isa Ado, confirmed the attack but said it was unsuccessful as the gunmen were repelled.
Ado, however, said he could not confirm the number of casualty.
“Yes, I can confirm to you that there was an attack by some unknown gunmen on our troops in Nembe and the attack was repelled. You can recall that there have been several attempts to overrun our men in Nembe. Our men are on a hot pursuit of the hoodlums as I speak with you,” he added.
But the police authorities in Bayelsa confirmed the incident which claimed the lives of four soldiers and one policeman attached to the JTF.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said the sea pirates carted away two guns and other arms from the base.
Meanwhile, the attack pitted a pro-Governor Seriake Dickson group against former Governor Timipre Sylva.
While the Dickson group accused the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) of masterminding the attack as part of an alleged plot by the Sylva-led APC to create a sense of insecurity in the state ahead of the December 5 governorship election, the former governor, through his Media Adviser, Doifie Buokoribo, said though the accusation was wild, unsubstantiated and irresponsible, the escalation of violence in the state should be put squarely at the doorstep of the state administration.
The Dickson group, in a statement by its leader, Seighfa Tonye-Brown, alleged that the Nembe attack was among the plan by the opposition party to unleash, between now and the election, tension and insecurity in the state in order to force the hand of President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency and possibly take over the state.
Sylva, in his response, said the present governor should be held responsible for the attack.
“That government has failed woefully in securing lives and property, but instead has overtly and covertly procured and traded in violence to intimidate political opponents and any voice of reason