Gunmen reportedly, last week, attacked the home of former President Goodluck Jonathan in Otuoke, Bayelsa state. They managed to kill a soldier on sentry at a nearby military checkpoint, but were stopped from reaching the ex President’s house by the dead soldier’s colleagues. Sources said three of the gunmen were shot dead by the soldiers. They said the attack came while Jonathan was out of the state. One of the sources said:, “Armed men who came in about five boats attacked the home of former President Jonathan. A security personnel attached to the former president was killed and about three of the gunmen were shot dead.”
President Jonathan, reacting to the attack, in a statement by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said the attackers came to steal a gunboat stationed 100 meters away from his residence. “A security post stationed near the Otuoke residence of former President Jonathan was attacked by unknown gunmen early Tuesday morning.
“The hoodlums, who came in about five engine boats, stormed the security post located about 100 metres away from former President Jonathan’s residence in his hometown Otuoke by 1:30 am on Tuesday. They attempted to take away a gunboat belonging to the military, stationed at the creek beside the residence. They were, however, resisted by gallant soldiers who engaged them in a firefight.
“The gunmen who couldn’t stand the firepower of the military were forced to beat a retreat. One soldier, unfortunately, lost his life in the fight while another was injured. One soldier, who is currently receiving treatment at a medical facility in Yenagoa, is in a stable state. The former President, who was not in Otuoke at the time of the attack, however, returned to his village early this (Tuesday) morning to assess the situation.”
The military joint task force (JTF) “Operation Delta Safe” (ODS) vowed to unmask the identities of the gunmen. Its spokesman, Major Jonah Unuakhalu, said the incident occurred at about 3 am on Tuesday. He regretted that while repelling the attack, a soldier died and another was injured.”
That same Tuesday, President Buhari called his predecessor to sympathise with him over the attack. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in the statement that the President reassured Dr. Jonathan that his administration was committed to his and Nigerians’ safety. The statement read: “In the telephone conversation, President Buhari expressed sadness over the tragic and unfortunate attack, during which a gallant soldier lost his life.
“While commending the soldiers on guard for bravely repelling the attack, the President condoled with family members as well as officers and men of the Nigerian Army over the loss of one of the guards. President Buhari assured that the protection of the life of the former leader and all citizens of the country will continue to be the major preoccupation of his administration.”
As usual, Nigerians have been quick to attribute motives to the attack. Some say it was an attempted assassination and others suspect an attempt to rob the residence in President Jonathan’s absence. Both sides have their reasons, given the visible role Jonathan was suspected to have played in the defeat of the candidate of the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Nov. 16 governorship election. The former President is a PDP stauncher.
However, we find Jonathan’s explanation of the motive for the attack more credible. The Niger Delta is notorious for illegal oil bunkering, carried out by armed groups using gunboats, often stolen from the military. Persons who are imputing political assassination as the reason for the attack conveniently are ignoring that elemental fact. This is why we advise that in serious matters like this people allow security forces to do their work professionally, and not interfere.
No doubt, the Federal Government needs to do more to protect life and property in the land. The fact that this attack occurred 100 metres from the house of a former Number One Citizen, even if he was not the intended target, is very alarming. However, we are assured by President Buhari’s renewed commitment to the “protection of the life of the former President and those of all Nigerians.”