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 Ogbodo: Military Ambush In Okuama Not Caused By Communal Crisis But Tied To Illegal Oil Bunkering

Former Guardian Editor Abraham Ogbodo doubts that a misunderstanding between communities will cause an attack on the military.

Former Editor of Guardian Newspaper and Niger Delta leader of thought, Abraham Ogbodo, has said that the ambush and murder of the troops from the 181 Amphibious Battalion is not connected to the communal crisis between Okuama and Okoloba, but instead connected to illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta.

During an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, the Urhobo indigene also said that the military should give investigators access into the Okuama community so that they can find out reasons behind the attack that killed 16 soldiers.

Ogbodo said that although the narrative now was to put the blame on the Okuama and Okoloba communities, “It is not true that a misunderstanding between an Urhobo community and an Ijaw community could actually bring that level of crisis, that level of tragedy that we witnessed, it is not true.

“It’s not about communal crisis. What level of communal crisis? The combined population of those communities will be less than 2,000 human beings. Where will they get the capacity to wreak that level of havoc? 

“To deliver that degree of tragedy, where will they have the capacity? It’s not possible. It’s like a crime taking place in all these drug enclaves in Latin America, and you will be looking for something else other than drugs. There is no crime that happens in Niger Delta that does not have crude oil and the arising benefits, and how those arising benefits can be allocated,” he said.

Speaking further to the possibility that illegal oil bunkering was behind the attacks, he said, “What was actually compelling about a peace mission in that place that will require the strategic team going for a tactical mission? So, it shows that there are so many things underlying that we are not talking about.

 “If it was actually for a peace mission, wouldn’t it have been for those community leaders to be summoned to the base in Bomadi for discussions to be held?

“This was not done- instead, the entire leadership of the battalion went to Bomadi and be so exposed, and if a mission like that was being carried by the strategic team, why was there not enough tactical cover that they were just gotten and taken out like that so cheaply? 

“The Nigerian military? That is uncalled for. So, you will see that there are so many things that are wrong.

“The Niger Delta today is a big crime scene. What matters in the Niger Delta is oil, and everything is subordinated to oil. And so, even the lives of the people, their livelihoods, subordinated to oil. And so, the mandate is that go and get the oil out at all costs. All of this has to be addressed. If they are not addressed, nothing is going to happen.”

He further said, “Right now, every military officer wants to work in the Niger Delta because they know what is involved. Underlying all of this is the issue of bunkering, and it is something that we are not bringing to the fore. But it is so unfortunate because if it is not addressed, it is going to happen again, and we will come back to be saying the same things that oh, we ought to have done this, who did this, and then the military will move in again in their normal way to level a whole community in search of culprits.”

Ogbodo then urged the military to grant access to the community to allow for thorough investigations into the attack as he said, “I think that what the president has said about investigation should be allowed to go full course. An investigation means that independent investigators really have to get to the site, get to the scene of crime and let the investigation be done. 

“The way we have it now, even the governor of the state could not get access to it, nobody is able to get there. The commissioner of police yesterday lamented his inability to access the place, it’s not done that way.

“While we really commiserate with the military, the military cannot be entirely a law unto itself. When you’re talking of a case, it cannot be the one to create the charge, will be the one to investigate it, and will be the one to adjudicate. 

“And so, we will want a situation where people who are detached, real professionals, to get to the place, they should be allowed to collect evidence of the crime. Let them look at the details, all the angles to it, and then let them come with a position, something that will be more credible. The military cannot stop every other person from entering the area.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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