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Nigerian Army Continues Siege On Delta Community In Search of Killers of 16 Soldiers, Set Buildings Ablaze

Okuoma in Delta has become a ghost town as troops relentlessly search for culprits behind the murder of 16 soldiers.

Nigeria’s military on Sunday, continued their siege on Okuoma community in Ughelli South Local Government area of Delta State in search of the killers of four officers and 12 soldiers who were on a peace mission to the community.Hide original message

Security sources said the heavily armed soldiers were unrelenting in apprehending the perpetrators inspite of the fact that the community was deserted.

It was however gathered that some buildings, allegedly owned or occupied by suspected perpetrators were set ablaze by the angry soldiers.

“Yes. Soldiers are still in the community. They are looking out for the perpetrators of that dastardly act. They will definitely get them as more arrests were made between Saturday and today (Sunday). 

“Some houses were set on fire but I can’t say who set them on fire and when. We came in to join the troops and noticed that they were on fire”, the security sources said.

It was learnt that partial peace had returned to the community though it was deserted but elderly men and women were seen sitting down Infront of their homes looking dejected.

Senator Joel-Onowakpo Condemns Killing, Calls For Calm

Meanwhile, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Joel-Onowakpo Thomas has condemned the gruesome murder of 16 soldiers in Okuama Community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

Senator Joel-Onowakpo, representing Delta South Senatorial district while reacting to the death of Nigerian soldiers, who were on a peace mission in a statement signed by him, said it was a crisis taken too far.

While commiserating with the military and the immediate families of the slain soldiers, he called for an holistic investigation into the remote causes of the crisis that led to the unwarranted killing of innocent soldiers.

Senator Joel-Onowakpo stressed the need for the security agencies to go after the masterminds of the heinous crime. 

The Senator, who also sympathized with the families of those who may have lost their loved ones as a result of the crisis, sued for immediate intervention of both the state and federal governments to avoid further escalation of the crisis.

He stressed on the need for the military to tactically deploy intelligence in the pursuit of the masterminds to avoid killing of innocent children and women of Okuama community who may not know those behind the dastardly act.

Mutu Condemns Action, Decries Linkage With Ijaw, Urges Arrest, Prosecution of killers 

Member of the House of Representatives, representing Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State, Nicholas Mutu also condemned Thursday’s killing of 16 soldiers by some irate youths of Okuama community , an Urhobo enclave in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state.

Mutu, who is the Chairman of the Gas Committee in the House, described the action as “barbaric and inhuman.”

Mutu, who is also the Chairman of the Southern Nigeria Caucus in the House  of Representatives, made his position on the tragic incident known in a statement issued by his Media Office on Sunday.

The federal lawmaker in the emotion- laden statement, said the killings of the 16 solders, including a Lt. Col, two Majors and one Captain of the Nigerian Army, on a peace keeping assignment in the Urhobo community was “senseless and embarrassing.”

Mutu challenged all relevant security agencies to work round the clock to fish out the killers and bring them to  justice.

He warned that the criminals should not  escape justice in order to serve as deterrent to those who may be planning to indulge in such heinous crime in the future.  

He condoled the families of the fallen soldiers, the Nigerian Army as well as the Armed Forces on the tragic development and prayed God to grant the repose of the souls of the gallant soldiers, who were gruesomely murdered while performing patriotic national assignments.

The lawmaker,  however, frowned at distortion of facts of the incident in a section of the press, which linked the fate of the soldiers to Ijaw militias in Okoloba, an Ijaw community in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta state.

“This is far from truth of the incident. The Ijaw is not in anyway linked or connected  to this unjustifiable barbaric and inhuman and  condemnable act.

“The facts of the matter are with all appropriate security agencies and they are in fact in public domain. The indigenes of Okuama are responsible for these senseless killings. Two contigents of troops of Nigerian Army who were deployed separately on peace keeping mission in Okuama, particularly to investigate the killing of an Okoloba boy, were ambushed and  wilfully murdered in cold-blood in Okuama.”

“Their headless and dismembered remains were recovered in the waters of Okuama Community , which is the scene of the crime. It’s therefore callous and indiscretionary to link the Ijaw to this heinous crime, which is a national embarrassment. It’s wrong for a section of the press to link the  innocent Ijaw people to this crime and I seize this medium to debunk such irresponsible reports on the incident.

“I condemn the reports linking the Ijaw with this crime and call on the authors of such falsehood to retract them and apologise to the Ijaw nation, forthwith. I also wish to implore all relevant security agencies to ensure that no stone is left unturned to arrest these criminals and prosecute them to attone for the sins they have committed against humanity”, he said.

CDC of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Decries Killing of Soldiers in Delta Community 

Also the leadership of the Community Development Committees of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas (CDC) condemned the killing of the soldiers of the 181 Amphibious Battalion of the Nigerian Army over a communal clash describing it as unacceptable. 

“There is no justification for this type of barbaric behaviour of a people against officers and men of the security forces”, it stated.

CDC, in a statement issued yesterday and signed by it’s Chairman, Board of Trustees, Joseph Ambadekerimo declared “We cannot allow this ugly incident to continue to happen in our communities. The region should not be made to become a hot bed of insecurity.

“We have enjoyed relative peace and we enjoin all and sundry to key in to continue to provide the atmosphere of peace and tranquil togetherness in our communities. We have pride the Niger Delta region as the most peaceful of the country and we urge it remains so”, it added. 

The group expressed sadness that peace keepers now became targets while trying to maintain peace and provide security to lives and properties noting that the culprits must be fished out and made to pay the highest price.

“Certainly this is the act  of criminal elements taking refuge in these communities therefore the leadership in these communities must be held to account untill the actors are found”, it stated. 

CDC however appealed to  President Bola Tinubu and the military high command  to restrain themselves from any form of  reprisals attack on the communities noting that doing so would only compound the already dire situation and it will only be the innocent ones that will suffer from such reprisal attacks. 

Sylvester Idowu in Warri

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