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Onokpasa: Innocent Citizens Should Not Be Targeted, Okuama Also A Victim Of Those Who Killed Soldiers

“They will sell the land tomorrow and use it to drink beer and carry prostitutes,”‘ Onokpasa said of Okuama landgrabbers.

Nigerian Lawyer Jesutega Onokpasa, has said that the Okuama community is also a victim of the individuals that killed the soldiers who were on their way to a peace mission in Delta State, and as such, innocent civilians should not be punished for the death of the soldiers.

Onokpasa said this in reaction to the allegations that the military had, in retaliation, returned to the Okuama community and set houses ablaze in the community, causing the residents of the community to flee their homes.

The lawyer, however, said that he did not want to go by speculation, but did not believe that the Nigerian Army was responsible for the violence in Okuama.

He said, “Whoever is targeting innocent civilians is breaking the law. I mean, two wrongs will not make a right. That some beasts, animals as far as I am concerned, targeted our troops, it doesn’t justify the targeting of innocent civilians.

“If it is the army that is doing that, that is wrong, but I don’t have proof of that, and I’m not going to go into a bandwagon effect and start tagging our army. Our army is really precious to me. I believe that our army is responsible, and it will not take the law into its hands and break the law by going after innocent civilians.”

Onokpasa, who is also an indigene of Delta State, then alleged that other people were behind the violence in Okuama as he said, “You have these crazy boys who happen to be armed to the teeth who are terrorizing the community. What are they even dragging this land for? It’s to sell. They will sell the land tomorrow and use it to drink beer and carry prostitutes.

“The community itself is a victim of these people. I think what is going on is that the army is trying to fish out those who killed the troops. While it is doing that, it must adhere to the rules of engagement, it must obey the law. We cannot have our own army behaving in a lawless manner no matter what has happened.”

Onokpasa then emphasized that the perpetrators of the deaths of the soldiers will be brought to justice, saying, “Of course, we do not subscribe to collective punishment, we do not subscribe to transferred aggression, we do not Obasanjo’s style of doing things- he was a man of muscle and, with respect, little sense. This is President Tinubu’s regime. The people who killed our troops, they will be traced, they will be tracked down, they will be hunted down, they will be apprehended, they will be brought before a court of law, and they will be tried and sentenced to death for killing our troops.

He then alleged that former President Obasanjo was the reason behind the onslaught of kidnappings in Nigeria as he said, “He massacred people in Odi, and it is Obasanjo’s action that led to the pandemic of kidnapping in Nigeria. It is Obasanjo arresting Asari Dokubo, if you recall, he arrested Asari Dokubo, transported him to Abuja and started prosecuting him. That is when MEND (the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) was formed, and then they started kidnapping expatriate workers.”

Concerning the dispute between Okuama and Okoloba communities which led to the unfortunate death of Nigerian soldiers, Onokpasa said, “I would say the dispute (between Okuama and Okoloba) was not taken too seriously by the government… Whatever mistakes have been made in handling it, I would call on Governor Oborevwori to take charge of the situation and effect a permanent settlement, and let us concentrate on the troops that we lost, how to comfort their families, and see how to restore peace, but there should be no collective punishment, not at all.”

Giving his opinions on what should be done to resolve the land dispute between the communities, he said, “At one point, I wanted to do a memo to the governor that the government should just take any land people are disputing. Take it over, build something there. Let us see whether they will still see land to fight about.

“If people are proving to be unwilling to live in peace, well, peace ought to be compelled upon them. Left to me, if you kill one person because of land, I will take the land from both sides.

“I will urge Governor Oborevwori, let him go there, get the two communities together, read them the riot act that if they do not share that disputed land amicably, then he should take it over.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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