Tinubu orders action against killers of 16 officers, soldiers

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday expressed deep displeasure over the killing of army officers and soldiers on a peace mission in a Delta State community, describing it as a direct affront to the nation.

Outrage greeted the dastardly act yesterday from Nigerians, who viewed the situation as unbecoming.

The military, which expressed indignation, was ordered by the President to fish out the killers and bring them to book.

The President in a statement, he personally signed, directed the military to immediately arrest the perpetrators.

Others who yesterday condemned the killings are Delta State Governor Sheriff Oborevwori; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Northern Governors’ Forum, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) and Clement Ikolo, the traditional ruler of the Ewu Kingdom where Okuoma is located.

A Lieutenant Colonel, two majors, and one captain, along with 12 soldiers and a civilian, were ambushed and killed on Thursday in Okuoma, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

The operatives were said to have gone to the Ijaw community to free one Anthony Aboh, an indigene of neighbouring Okoloba, who was allegedly abducted on Wednesday over a land dispute between the two communities.

Residents of Okuoma had reportedly fled in their hundreds before some of their homes were set ablaze.

Reporters gathered that there was a strong military presence in the troubled community.

Condoling with the “families of these fallen soldiers, their colleagues and their loved ones,” the President assured that those behind the “heinous crime will not go unpunished.”

“The Defence Headquarters and Chief of Defence Staff (Gen. Christopher Musa) have been granted full authority to bring to justice anybody found to have been responsible for this unconscionable crime against the Nigerian people.

“My government will not relent until we achieve peace and tranquillity in every part of Nigeria,” he said.

The President added: “On Saturday morning, the Nigerian people and I woke up to the dreadful news of the unprovoked killing of our brave military personnel during a rescue mission to the Okuoma community of Delta State.

“The incident occurred on Thursday, 14 March, 2024 when our troops, responding to a crisis between Okuama and Okoloba communities in Delta State were ambushed.

Read Also; Killing of soldiers: Delta community deserted, residents flee home
“A Commanding Officer, two Majors, one Captain and 12 soldiers sadly lost their lives. One civilian was also killed.

“As the Commander-in-Chief, I join all well-meaning Nigerians and the men and women of our armed forces to mourn and express my profound grief over the needless death of our gallant soldiers.

“I extend my profound condolences to the families of these fallen soldiers, their colleagues and their loved ones.

“The military high command is already responding to this incident. The cowardly offenders responsible for this heinous crime will not go unpunished.

“This incident, once again, demonstrates the dangers faced by our servicemen and women in the line of duty. I salute their heroism, courage and uncommon grit and patriotism.

“As a nation, we must constantly remember and honour all those who have paid the ultimate price to keep our country safe, strong and united.

“The officers and men who died in the Okuoma community have joined the pantheon of great men and women who gave their all, with honour, in the service of our fatherland.

“Members of our armed forces are at the heart and the core of our nationhood. Any attack on them is a direct attack on our nation. We will not accept this wicked act.

“May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and keep the members of our armed forces safe.”

In Asaba, the Delta State capital, Governor Oborevwori said his government was “gravely disturbed by the killings of the officers and soldiers because the act was as alien to the culture of Deltans”.

Like the President, he commiserated with the families of slain military men.

“This incident is despicable and not in sync with the culture and tradition of Deltans.

“It runs contrary to the values and path of peace that the state government is promoting,” he lamented in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Festus Ahon.

The governor assured that his administration would “take all measures necessary to fish out all those behind this dastardly act and ensure they are made to face the full wrath of the law.”

He appealed to all citizens and residents of the state to remain law-abiding as the government would continue to protect lives and property in the state.

PANDEF, Ijaw, Urhobo groups seek probe
PANDEF, a group led by Chief Edwin Clark, said the killing was “totally unacceptable and must be fully investigated.”

Read Also:

Influential Northern Senator under watch for terrorism/kidnapping

The group also mourned the slain operatives and enjoined the Army and other security agencies not to be deterred by the latest tragedy.

“This dastardly act is unacceptable and must be fully investigated. There must be no sacred cows, the culprits must be brought to book as early as possible.

“PANDEF mourns the slain military personnel and commiserates with all the families and the entire Nigerian Army.

“PANDEF further urges the Nigerian Army and other security personnel around the country to continue with their great national service and not to be deterred by this present sad development,” PANDEF said in a statement by Clark.

Youth groups in Urhobo and Ijaw – IYC Western Zone and UPU – also flayed the incident and called for a probe.

The IYC zone, said in a statement by its Chairman, Doubra Okotete; secretary, Omoghomi Olu-Derimon and Information Officer, Lugard Izuokumor, however, decried reports that Ijaw youths carried out the attack.

Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.- Gen. Tukur Gusau, on Saturday accused youths of Okuoma of being behind the act.

Co-chairman of the Security Committee of UPU, Efe Kigho, described the incident as “not only a clear case of man’s inhumanity to man,” but “repugnant in all ramifications and condemnable.”

He said: “While the attack on military men is not and cannot be acceptable, the ongoing killing of innocent civilians and destruction of Okuoma community can never be justified.”

Kigho also enjoined the Federal and Delta State governments as well as all relevant authorities to “immediately intervene in the ongoing senseless and baseless butchery, carnage, massacre, slaughter and ensure the cessation of all forms of hostilities to enable our displaced innocent mothers and children.

The Urhobo Media Practitioners Advocacy Group (UMPAG) called for an independent panel of inquiry into the killings.

A statement by its Secretary, Theophilus Onojeghen and an executive member, Shedrack Onitsha, alleged “a grand conspiracy to twist the facts of the bizarre incident to paint one party as savages and adjudge another as saints.”

Commiserating with the military, federal and Delta state governments, UMPAG demanded an “independent investigation and arrest of the culprits.”

It said any panel mandated to probe the incident should unearth the “true mission” of the military personnel in the two communities.

AANI, which also called for the arrest of the killers, said their act “was an unforgivable affront to national values.’’

“AANI stands in solidarity with the military and the families of these heroes who paid the supreme price in the quest for peace in Delta,’’ its National President, Emmanuel Okafor, said.

Monarch, lawmakers demand perpetrators’ arrest

Clement Ikolo, the traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom where Okuoma is located, supported the calls for the arrest of perpetrators but appealed for the protection of the community against external aggressors.

Two National Assembly members from Delta State- Joel-Onowakpo Thomas and Nicholas Mutu – called on relevant authorities to tread softly on the incident.

Thomas, who represents Delta South in the Senate, called for a holistic investigation into the crisis and urged the state and federal governments to urgently intervene to prevent it from escalating.

“There is a need for the security agencies to go after the mastermind of the heinous crime.

“There is also the need for the military to tactically deploy intelligence in tracking the mastermind to avoid the killing of innocent people in the Okuoma community.

“I commiserate with the military authority, families of the slain soldiers as well as others who may have lost their loved ones to the crisis.

“I urge the people of Okuoma Community to assist the military to fish out the killers of the gallant soldiers,” he said.

Mutu, a member of the House of Representatives, urged relevant security agencies to work round the clock to fish out the killers.

The lawmaker, however, frowned at what he called purported distortion of facts of the incident

“The Ijaw is not in any way linked or connected to this unjustifiable barbaric and inhuman and condemnable act,” he said

Northern Senators condole Nigerian Army

NSF expressed its sympathies to the “families of the fallen heroes, and the entire Armed Forces” over the death of the “brave personnel.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you, the families of the fallen heroes, and the entire Armed Forces as we honour the sacrifice and service of our brave personnel,” the forum said in a statement by its Chairman, Senator Abdulaziz Yar’Adua.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *