The six-member Bayelsa State Commission of Inquiry into Amassoma civil disturbances and unrest has begun sitting at Multi-Door Court House, High Court Complex, Ovom, Yenagoa, the state capital.
Goveror Seriake Dickson had inaugurated the commission shortly after the crisis that engulfed Amassoma, host community of the state-owned Niger Delta University, to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the civil disturbances that occurred in and around Amassoma.
During the crisis, no fewer than five persons were reportedly killed and many persons injured in the violent clash which occurred between security operatives and indigenes of the university town in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
Dickson had given the commission a nine -point terms of reference including the identification of the perpetrators of the unlawful acts and their sponsors and to determine the extent of damage to property, both public as well as private, if any during the incident.
He also urged the commission to recommend measures aimed at averting future occurrences of such incidents within and around the NDU and its host communities, as well as make any other recommendations that might be deemed fit in the circumstances.
At the inaugural sitting on Monday, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Michael Zuokumor, Deputy Inspector General of Police (retd.), said relevant stakeholders turned up for the hearing. He said some persons had submitted their memoranda including the Vice-Chancellor, NDU, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo.
Zuokumor noted that the commission was not going to work on memoranda alone but would take oral evidences to ascertain the truth of what transpired during the incident.
The retired DIG stated, “There were some disturbances in Amassoma community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The road to the Niger Delta University was blocked; there was so much violence and the university was seriously looted.
“From what I learnt, lives were even lost. The essence of this commission is a fact-finding one to look into the issues that happened. The commission is not to indict anybody but to ascertain what happened so that we can do whatever we can to prevent such from happening again in the state.
“We have received memoranda from the university and from other persons; we do not work on memoranda alone. This is fact-finding; we also take oral evidences. The strict rules of criminal trial does not take place here since it is fact-finding. But in order for people not to mislead us, they are meant to swear to an oath.”