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No reprisal over troops’ killings – Military

The military high command has denied reports that troops went on a reprisal attack after the killing of 16 soldiers in the Okuama community in Delta State. 

Daily Trust had reported how an army commander, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers were killed in Okuama.

The deceased officers and soldiers were from 181 Amphibious Batallion in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, had directed the immediate investigation and arrest of those involved in the heinous crime.

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Days after the order, residents of the Okuama community fled to neighbouring Ughelli for fear of reprisal by soldiers.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Edward Buba, yesterday said the armed forces being a disciplined force complies with its rules of engagement, laws of armed conflict and respect for human rights. 

He said, “The ugly incident in the Okuama community in Delta State is indicative of the dangers our gallant troops experience to secure our nation. 

“The military assures that there would be measured responses and injurious consequences for the perpetrators of these dastardly acts. 

“Nevertheless, the armed forces being a disciplined force that complies with rules of engagement, laws of armed conflict and the respect for human rights would be tempered by these provisions. We would not be led by emotions but by the rule of law. 

“It is against this background that the military debunks all claims that the military embarked on reprisal attacks in the Okuama community after the incident. The community was deserted even before troops arrived at the scene. 

“Importantly, those involved in peddling this misinformation, disinformation and fake news that the military had embarked on reprisal attacks on the community following the incident, should desist from further dishonouring our fallen heroes.” 

The senior military officer urged community leaders, elders and even the people of Delta State to assist investigation to identify the perpetrators of the dastardly act so that they can be held accountable for their actions.

11 killed, houses razed in Bayelsa

Meanwhile, troops of the Nigerian Army have reportedly invaded the Igbomotoru community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, razing houses and allegedly killing about 11 people. 

Soldiers in five gunboats reportedly stormed the community and razed houses suspected to be the hideout of a militant leader said to be involved in the killing of the military men who were on a rescue mission in Delta.

A source said immediately the troops stormed the Bayelsa community, they opened fire on some residents relaxing at the jetty before proceeding to set ablaze the three buildings suspected to be the hideout of the said militant leader.

He said the community had been able to recover 11 corpses from the attack, while still searching for others.

He said, “The military invasion has affected the people gravely. Lives have been lost; properties have been destroyed. Even after the attack, I am sure that life in the community will never be the same.

“I am appealing to the federal and state governments to as a matter of urgency intervene in this matter. We do not have a hand in whatever transpired in Delta State. The international community should come to our aid.”

When contacted on the phone, the spokesman for Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) headquarters, Major Adenegan Ojo, terminated the call after hearing it was a journalist who called.

He, however, refused to answer subsequent phone calls.

Fish out killers of soldiers, Senate tells security forces  

The Senate has asked security forces to fish out the killers of 16 military personnel in the Okuama community. 

The Senate, in a statement on Monday by its spokesman, Senator Yemi Adaramodu, described the killings as a perfidious height of a barbaric and heinous crime.  

He said, “The Senate leadership and all distinguished senators of the 10th Senate condemn this attack and convey their deepest condolences to the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, the Nigerian Army, officers and men of Operation Delta Safe as well as the families of all the personnel who have lost their lives. 

“We consequently support the president; the Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s charge to the security authorities to smoke out the undesirable outlaws who put off the glowing lights of those promising officers and men.” 

 

Killing of soldiers unacceptable – Kwara Gov 

 Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Monday condemned the deadly attack on soldiers in Delta State, describing it as “unacceptable”. 

 AbdulRazaq spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, when he received participants of the Strategic Management and Policy Studies Course 6/23 from the Nigerian Army Resource Centre on a courtesy visit. 

The governor, who chairs the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), sympathised with the federal government over the incident and praised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his swift action and the directive to fish out the perpetrators. 

Also, the Director General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Dr Joseph Ochogwu, said the attack on soldiers in Delta State portrayed Nigeria in a bad light.

The DG, in a statement yesterday, also demanded a thorough investigation into the killings, adding that for a country to lose 16 officers and men when it is not at war is unacceptable.

The IPCR boss noted that all that the security personnel needed was commendation for their patriotic effort to secure the nation in this trying time. 

“We are calling for a thorough investigation into the incident and urge the military to remain very professional at all times no matter the provocation,” he said.

How slain soldiers were ambushed – Ex-General

Major General Cecil Esekhaigbe (rtd) has narrated how the soldiers and officers who were murdered in the Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, were ambushed.

Speaking when he was featured as a guest on Channels Television, on Monday, Esekhaigbe said the soldiers went to the coastal community to find out why their colleagues who were on a peacekeeping mission to the village were held hostage.

He said, “Now, don’t forget you called it a peace mission; the mindset of these officers and men was to go and find out what the problems were and to find out why their men were kept behind. 

“So, their mind was not to go and fight and that is what we must understand. So, they were not going with the mentality of going for an attack, if they, even as few as they were, they would not have been able to surround and dastardly murder them the way they did.

“So, what played out here is that they fell into an ambush because these militia groups have sophisticated weapons and when you are ambushed, no matter how sophisticated you are, you will have the consequences of an ambush. That calls to mind the need for training and retraining because you must know the local environment in which you are operating.”

Army unveils identities of fallen heroes 

In a statement on Monday, the Nigerian Army unveiled the identities of the 16 fallen heroes.

They are: 

AH Ali Lieutenant Colonel (Commanding officer, 181 Amphibious Battalion)

SD Shafa Major

DE Obi Major

  1. Zakari Captain

Yahaya Saidu Staff Sergeant

Yahaya Danbaba Corporal

Kabiru Bashir Corporal

Bulus Haruna Lance Corporal

Sole Opeyemi Lance Corporal

Bello Anas Lance Corporal

Hamman Peter Lance Corporal

Ibrahim Abdullahi Lance Corporal

Alhaji Isah Private

Clement Francis Private

Abubakar Ali Private

Ibrahim Adamu Private

Adamu Ibrahim Private

 

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