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Tragic Killing of Soldiers In Okuama Community: Group Calls for Justice

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities, and Nigeria Mourns have as a result of the tragic killing of 16 officers of the Troops of 181 Amphibious  Batallion, Bomani, LGA of Delta State, called on the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to Set up an independent body to conduct a thorough investigation to uncover the perpetrators of this heinous crime and ensure that they are all brought to justice

The call was revealed in a statement jointly signed by Global Rights, Executive Director, Abiodun Baiyewu,  Executive Director, Center for Community Excellence, Adamu Kotorkoshi,  Co-Founder Sesor Empowerment Foundation , Ier Jonathan Ichaver,  Executive Director, Alliances for Africa. Iheoma Obibi,  Executive Director, We the People , Ken Henshaw, Team Lead, Srarina Initiative for Peace Justice and Development, Redzie Jugo and Head of Programmes, African Initiative for Peacebuilding, Advocacy and Advancement (AfriPeace) Rossi Paul

The Group according to the statement, called on the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Ahmed Tinubu to declare a day of national mourning and ensure that the nation’s gallant officers are buried with full military honors and that their families are compensated in a timely manner  

They also urged the Commander to set up a panel to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the communal clash that led to the attack on the officers, Conduct a study on the proliferation of cult gangs in South-South Nigeria with a bid to neutralize them and end their menace  and  Conduct an audit on the welfare and protection of our security agents and ensure that they are treated as critical national assets

The statement which said the Group are saddened and unequivocally condemn the attack by unknown assailants in Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area and the Okolaba community of the Bomadi Local Government Area in Delta State, on Thursday, March 14, 2024, recalled that the officers were ambushed and killed while responding to a distress call after an intercommunal clash between Okuama and Okolaba Communities.

“We appeal to our fellow compatriots to find ways of honoring these gallant officers and demonstrating support for our security forces. First, by observing a period of national mourning, demanding for their protection, and expressing gratitude for their continued service in civic spaces, including on online platforms”.  

They noted that the facts that surround the circumstances in which our gallant officers, who had been deployed to the community to maintain peace and order, were killed are still unclear. The Nigerian Army has communicated its intention to investigate the event and ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act apprehended, and that justice is served.  

“For our gallant officers, the onerous duty of defending and protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity comes with the added responsibility of protecting the nation against both external and internal aggressors. This imperative has become more pronounced in the face of escalating onslaughts by terrorists and other organized criminal groups”.

“Over the past decade and a half, more than 3000 officers have paid the ultimate price for our continued freedom.  Last year, at least 262 state security personnel were violently killed defending our country.

‘In the first quarter of this year alone, we have recorded the killings of at least 62 state security agents” they said. Despite the high number of fatalities that they have occasioned, our security and well-being have remained the primary focus of our state security agents, who have continued to defend us with their own lives on the line. We are in turn concerned about the inordinately high number of fatalities among officers on active duty.

“The unfortunate event last week in Delta is a further dampener on our collective psyche as a nation. We condole with the families and colleagues of our slain heroes and stand with them as fellow Nigerians.

“This tragic event also brings to the fore the proliferation of intractable communal conflicts across the country and the failure of the government to foster lasting peace by ensuring justice and the provision of social goods, further stating that the deployment of military personnel to quell conflicts can only be a stop-gap measure which cannot replace good governance and a vibrant judiciary; and when they continue for as long as a number of the deployments across our country have, they are stretched thin, exposed to mental health disorders, and, as in the current circumstances, are sometimes forced to pay the ultimate price:

“We cannot afford as a country to continue to waste the lives of our stellar security officers, nor can we indefinitely continue to apply band-aid measures to the various theaters of conflict spread across our country.  We also cannot ignore the palpable fear by innocent members of these communities that innocent residents will become scapegoats, from whom vengeance will be exacted for the loss of our officers,” they said 

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