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Soldiers Killing: No One Left In The Community, Says Governor

Gov Oborevwori

There is no one left in Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State where Army officers and men were killed, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori said yesterday.
Describing the incident as strange, he said he was unable to reach any of the community leaders.

The governor said he received an update from the military, and that the the situation was under control.

The member representing the community in the House of Representatives, Francis Waive, told his colleagues at the Green Chamber yesterday that his people were hiding in the bush.

Oborevwori spoke with reporters at the State House, Abuja, after briefing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on developments.

The Army put the number of those killed at 17, including four officers.

The officers are Lt. Col. A.H Ali, Maj. Safa, Maj. D.E Obi, and Captain U. Zakari.

The soldiers are Staff Sergeant Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Yahaya Danbaba, Corporal Kabir Bashir, Lance Corporals Bulus Haruna, Sole Opeyemi, Bello Anas, Haman Peter and Ibrahim Abdullahi.

The rest are Privates Alhaji Isah, Clement Francis, Abubakar Ali, Ibrahim Adamu and Adamu Ibrahim.

The officers and soldiers were on a peace mission when those believed to be Okuama youths ambushed and murdered them on Thursday.

More outrage greeted the dastardly act yesterday.

The Senate, House of Representatives, prominent Nigerians and groups called for a thorough investigation.

They want the perpetrators brought to justice.

The Senate, which observed a minute’s silence in honour of the slain officers and men, mandated its committees on the Army, Defence, Air Force and Navy to investigate the killings.

Immediate past Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, called for an independent investigative panel to unearth the true nature of the incident.

Bayelsa Governor Douye Diri warned against drawing hasty conclusions on the killings or politicising the situation.

The Urhobo Traditional Rulers and the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) called for an independent truth commission on the killings and the underlying causes.

The Forum of Delta State Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) called for a special panel to probe the incident.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) urged the community leaders to expose those behind the killings.

Oborevwori said while his government has met with the military, it has not been able to meet with the community leaders because the place has been deserted.

He added: “First and foremost, the community has been deserted.

“So, the issue of whether we’ve been able to see the community leaders, no.

“We’ve only gotten full briefing from the Army and we’re on it because this week the traditional council is going to meet and discuss.

“I’m going to invite stakeholders. We’re on top of it.”

The governor said a security meeting was held on Monday with the heads of security agencies in attendance.

“We’re on the same page to fish out the real culprits because innocent people will not suffer for it.

“They have assured us that no innocent person will be victimised.”

Oborevwori said peace and security were key priorities of his administration.

According to him, he had worked with other stakeholders from Okuama and Okoloba to address the age-long rivalry between them.

The governor said: “Since last year, we’ve been enjoying peace. We commend all the security agencies, but an unfortunate thing happened last week. People who don’t know the issues are talking.

“The two communities have been having issues for years. On February 7, they were invited by the state government.

“The two communities – the members representing the two local governments, the council chairmen and the leaders of those communities – were invited.

“They agreed to work together and signed a peace accord.

“This unfortunate incident is very sad because Delta is governed by the tenets of the rule of law and decency.

“I promised Deltans that I’d be the governor of all and we’ve been enjoying peace.

“One of my M.O.R.E. Agenda is that we’ll enhance peace and security, and that’s what we’ve been doing.

“What is happening now is something that we did not bargain for, but we want to assure everybody that there’ll be no more attacks on the villages.

“Those who are culpable will be brought to book, but the innocent citizens will not be attacked.”

He said the families of those killed will not be abandoned.

“The people that have been killed, the officers and soldiers – we must see how we can find succour for their families and give them a befitting burial,” Oborevwori said.

Senate launches probe

The Senate mandated its committees on Army, Defence, Air Force and Navy to investigate the killings.

It urged the committees to liaise with the military authorities and agencies already investigating the incident.

The Senate observed a minute silence in honour of the slain officers.

It called for recruitment and training of more police personnel to relieve the military of policing duties.

The resolutions followed a point of order raised by Senator Abdulaziz Yar’adua (APC – Katsina Central) during plenary.

The upper chamber urged the Federal Government to ensure that those “responsible for the heinous crime were identified, apprehended and brought to face the full consequences of their action through a fair and transparent legal process.”

Yar’adua, who is chairman, Senate Committee on the Army, described the killings as “a serious threat to national security and stability of the nation.”

He added: “The tragic incident underscores the urgent need for justice and accountability without resorting to retribution.”

Senator Ede Dafinone (APC-Delta Central) who seconded the motion, condoled with the military command and the families of the slain soldiers.

Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, said what happened was despicable.

“It is inhuman and it is something that cannot be accepted,” he said.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio cautioned against speculating on who was behind the killings until the investigation is concluded.

He said: “I do not believe that these people (the killers) are from Niger Delta. We respect men and women in uniform.

“Let there be a thorough investigation to know whether these people are mercenaries from outside Niger Delta who came to commit this crime because I don’t think these people are Niger Deltans.

“We are not at war to lose such a number of personnel. No community will go to the extent of doing this kind of thing. I don’t think they are from Niger Delta.

“So, I think the first point is that we should first establish the culprits who committed this crime. We must take this seriously.

“We condemn this dastardly act. It portends danger for the entire society. Every single culprit involved must be brought out to face the full wrath of the law.

“This is not acceptable in any sane society in the world.”

Former Senator President Senator Ahmad Lawan said the military needed support at all times.

Lawan, who chairs the Committee on Defence, called for a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice and restore peace and order in the area.

Reps to investigate murder of soldiers in Delta Community

The House of Representatives called for a thorough investigation, saying the perpetrators and their collaborators must be brought to book.

The resolution followed a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos).

Benson, who heads the House Committee on Defence, noted that the fallen soldiers were on a peaceful and mediatory mission.

“The perpetrators of this heinous act did not only stop at killing these military personnel but also went ahead to sacrilegiously debase their remains,” he said.

Francis Waive (APC, Delta) who represents the Federal constituency where the killing occurred, said those responsible must be fished out and brought to book.

Waive, however, pleaded with the military to observe international protocol and halt the burning of the community so that innocent persons taking refuge in the bush could return home.

He said: “My people are currently displaced, and there is nobody in the community presently.

“Many people in the community are currently taking refuge in the bush.

“It is my belief that the innocent ones should not be made to suffer.

“I believe that efforts should be intensified to fish out those responsible for this act.

“I also want to appeal to the people from both sides of the divide to give peace a chance.”

Urhobo monarchs, UPU demands truth commission

The Executive Council of Urhobo Traditional Rulers (Ukoko r’Ivie r’Urhobo) and the Executive Council of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide urged the Delta government to set up an independent truth commission on the killings.

The call was contained in a communique signed by the Chairman, Ovie of Uvwie kingdom, Emmanuel Sideso, and the President General of UPU, Chief Ese Gam Owe after a joint meeting in Effurun.

They urged the state government to provide a permanent solution to the crisis that resulted in the killings.

The leaders commiserated with the families of the dead officers/soldiers who were killed in the “avoidable/unfortunate incident”.

“We call on the government of Delta State to set up an independent truth commission to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the Okuama/Okoloba crisis and or causes of the frequent disagreements between the Urhobo and the Ijaw communities/neighbours on the Forcados River for a permanent solution,” they said.

Diri: don’t play politics with incident

Diri warned against drawing hasty conclusions on the killings.

He faulted comments attributed to former Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva.

The ex-governor was quoted as saying that the last Bayelsa governorship election featured “a lot of disheartening state sponsorship of gunmen” and that the Okuama killings are “the result of that act of desperation”.

Diri, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, said comments on the killings should rather be restrained at this time.

The statement said: “The military authorities should be allowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the sordid occurrence in Okuama.

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