The family of a boat driver who died in a fatal shooting by suspected operatives of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, have demanded justice, insisting he was innocent.
Boluozimo Tulagha, 39, died on January 13, 2017 from three shots allegedly fired by operatives at the waterfront of Polaku community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
And now his (Boluozimo’s) family, protesting the alleged gruesome murder by security operatives, have expressed their anger and their determination to receive justice.
It has yet to be fully established why the boat driver, who had plied his trade in Polaku and environs for more than seven years was shot dead.
But community sources, had alleged that Boluozimo was contracted by a gang of hoodlums to help them to carry some vegetables from Polaku to Odi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state.
They further said that unknown to the boat driver, some items suspected to be guns were concealed in the sack of vegetables the gang hired him to ferry for them.
The sources claimed that operatives, acting on a tip-off, had laid an ambush for the boat, and when the boat was about to sail, the security operatives opened fire, which allegedly led to the killing of the boat driver.
However, another source claimed that the boat driver died from soldiers gun shots when some suspected to be gunrunners engaged in a shootout with the JTF operatives.
It was learnt that after the incident, the troops arrested two members of the gang, who were said to have been detained by the operatives.
But the father of Boluozimo, Rev. E.D. Tulagha, a cleric and former secondary school Principal, claimed that his son was murdered in cold blood and that he did not have any history of criminality since he was born.
Leading the family members in a protest in Yenagoa, the octogenarian said the killing of his ‘innocent’ son was very patience-absorbing and miserable.
He said the late Boluozimo had been driving that speed boat for more than seven years and had never had any problem until some youths negotiated with him to make a trip to Odi.
Tulagha stated, ”On January 13, 2017 they were ready to move to Odi. Boluozimo went into the boat in order to warm the engine. The security men appeared with guns and inadvertently shot Boluozimo’s leg.
”He then shouted with uplifted hands and said, ‘I am only a driver; I don’t know anything about them. Do not kill me’.
”Then the operatives lodged another gunshot on side of his shoulder. He was shouting and crying, ‘Don’t kill me, I am ignorant of anything they are doing.’
”The security operatives, in the process gave the third gunshot into his bowels and Boluozimo died right in the spot without mercy.’
”After that, according to information, their boss arrived from a gunboat. He then warned that no gunshot should be made.’
Tulagha, however, said that subsequent information gathered was that the youth who approached his son were cultists and that was not made known to him (Boluozimo), insisting that his son was completely innocent of what they were all about.