Delta Killings: Military begins probe of 17 soldiers killed in Okuama 

Members of the Military Board of Inquiry constituted by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to investigate the 17 soldiers killed in Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta, have commenced sitting.

They convened yesterday at the Governor’s Office Annexe in Warri South Local Government Area of the state.

The meeting, which was scheduled for 2pm, however, started at about 3.45pm with six stakeholders from the Okoloba community, Bomadi Local Government Area, in attendance.

The Okuama community was, however, not represented.

The Director-General, Political and Security Services in Delta, Mr. David Tonwe, who ushered the Okoloba stakeholders into the meeting room, told reporters that they were not permitted to be part of the meeting.

Seventeen soldiers – made up of a Commanding Officer, two Majors, a Captain and 13 others, were ambushed and murdered on March 14.

They were responding to the crisis between Okoloba and Okuama communities, who had allegedly engaged in an aged-long land dispute.

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Last Friday, members of the military board were hosted by Governor Sheriff Oborevwori at the Governor’s Office annexe.

He called for a transparent investigation into the killings.

The governor, who assured the panel that the state government would provide them with useful information, however, noted that innocent citizens should not be made to suffer any further.

Oborevwori: “We will also come up with our position paper to submit to you people before you leave. That will guide you on the role that we have played as a state because if we do not come with this position paper, you will not know the role that the state has played.”

Chairman of the board, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) David Ajayi, said the panel was in the state to investigate the unfortunate incident at Okuama.

AVM Ajayi said: “We are here on a fact-finding mission and not to apportion blame. We are here to gather facts from security agencies, community leaders, and community dwellers.

“This report will also help to ensure healthy communication that will enhance civil-military relations and ensure that economic activities thrive again in the affected communities.”

The AVM urged the governor to assist the board in its assignment to ensure that relevant stakeholders were invited to give accounts of what led to the crisis.

The board is billed to visit Bayelsa State tomorrow in continuation of its assignment.

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