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Okuama Women, Children, Elderly Still In The Bush, Says Urhobo Youth Wing President in Aftermath Of Military Lockdown 

“Children, old ones who could not run at the time when the community was attacked were also slaughtered,” Ughere said.

As troops of the Nigerian army continue the manhunt for the fleeing militant leader and gang members who killed 17 soldiers, the invasion of the soldiers has left residents of Bayelsa and Delta apprehensive. 

People have also raised complaints about the military operation from Okuama to other communities.

The Youth Wing President of the Urhobo Progress Union, Blessed Ughere, joined ARISE NEWS on Friday in an interview to discuss his concerns over the activities of the military in the community, and the condition of the locals.

Ughere extended condolences to the families affected by recent events, emphasising the importance of moving towards peace after conflict and stressing the need for resolution through impartial investigation.

“We commiserate with what has happened, the deaths, the families of the military and that of Okuama people, and after war comes peace. If something has happened of this magnitude, what should be left is how to look for a way to resolve the issues. 

“One of the best ways to resolve the issues is to set up an independent team to investigate this issue. And in this position, there’s no way investigation can go on when Okuama community is being locked up. How do we know the truth?” 

While asserting that the government needs to investigate the situation, he stated that those responsible for the recent events are not from the Niger Delta.  

“If the senate president says these persons are not from Niger Delta, the government should go in and investigate them. And if they must investigate them, the place is locked up, how do you expect the truth to be brought out when there is no access into the community? 

“Even the governor cannot access it. We saw the commissioner of police complaining that he cannot access it.”

He also expressed concerns for the safety and well-being of the community members, particularly women, children, and elderly individuals, who are still displaced, highlighting the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the situation, as many stories circulate without confirmation, making it challenging to discern the truth amidst the chaos.

 “Our women and children are still in the bush. Our mothers, our elderly people, Okuama people are in the bush who do not know anything. 

“Some of them were in the bush clearing when it happened, some of them were at school, some of them do not even know where their children are, some of them are dead. How do we confirm all of these alleged stories? A lot of stories are flying in and we do not know what to believe.”

Condemning  the reprisal attack on the community, he expressed concern over the military’s alleged refusal to grant access to government authorities for investigation and resolution of the situation.

“It is a very bad act to kill the military but it is also bad for the reprisal attack on the community where young ones who do not know anything are alleged to have been killed. Children, old ones who could not run at the time when the community was attacked were also slaughtered, that was the alleged story we are hearing. Saying the military have refused to allow access to government authority to go into the place to be able to investigate the actual cause and proffer a solution to this issue is worrisome.”

While praising the governor of Delta State for displaying a sense of responsibility in the current situation, he however expressed dissatisfaction with what he perceives as inadequate actions from the federal government and the military.

He urged the government to instruct the military to cease their indiscriminate searches of communities, especially since the military spokesperson claimed they know the culprits.

“I want to commend the efforts of the governor of Delta state for being able to show some sign of responsibility so far, but it feels like the federal government and the military are not doing the needful as it should be done.

“I came here to tell the world that my people, Urhobo youths, women, young persons are in the bush, they don’t have food, they don’t have shelter, they don’t have anything. What we are asking the government to do is to tell the military to stop going from community to community. Since the spokesman  to the military has come out yesterday and said they know the people who are involved and they will catch them in no short time, why then go and start rambling every community.we are calling on the federal government to please call on the military to give access to people to comeback and live their lives while investigation is being done, not locking the door against investigators.

“Our mothers are in the bush nowhere to give them food. Let me use this opportunity to call on the federal government, that we are tired. They should do things in line with the international standard of investigation. We want our people back to their life while the investigation is going on.”

Melissa Enoch

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