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Delta Community where Majors, captain, others were killed on fire

Many houses are on fire in Okuama, a community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, where 16 military personnel were killed on…

Many houses are on fire in Okuama, a community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, where 16 military personnel were killed on Thursday.

The houses were burnt after residents of the coastal community fled to neighboring Ughelli for fear of a reprisal by soldiers who started patrolling the creeks after an Army Commander, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers, who were on a peace mission were killed by irate youths.

Daily Trust had reported how the deceased officers and soldiers, who were of 181 Amphibious Batallion in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta, were murdered.

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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It is unclear if the military is responsible for burning down the houses, but some gun boats suspectedly belonging to the navy, were sighted behind the houses on fire in the coastal community.

There are also images and videos of the incident trending on various social media platforms.

Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, tweeted about the incident.

General Officer Commanding 6 division Nigerian Army, Major General Jamal Abdussalam, had announced the arrest of some suspects linked to the fresh killing of troops.

Killing of security personnel in a similar manner had led to the invasion of Odi, a community in Bayelsa State in 1999.

12 police officers were murdered by a gang near Odi, seven on November 4, 1999, and the remainder in the days after.

In retaliation, the military invaded the village on November 20, 1999, and close to 900 civilians were reportedly killed. Every building in the town except the bank, the Anglican church and the health centre was burned to the ground.

Two years later, a similar incident played out in Zaki Biam, Benue State.

On 10 October 2001, 19 soldiers were ambushed and captured in the town of Vaase by a group suspected to be militias. Two days later, the soldiers’ bodies were discovered near a primary school in the nearby town of Zaki-Biam. According to locals, the murders were prompted by previous incidents in which armed men in military uniforms attacked several Tiv communities. There was a strong suspicion among the Tiv that elements of the military were backing their Jukun rivals, with whom they have had a reoccurring conflict over land.

Soldiers also carried out retaliatory attack in the community and its environs.

While commiserating with the military authorities over the murder, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), had said troops should go after only those involved in the killing.

Falana, who commended the military for the arrest of some of the ring leaders of the attack, said the military must resist a repeat of the reprisal massacre of innocent civilians in Odi and Zaki Biam.

“Having regard to the massacre of innocent people when the military invaded Odi in Bayelsa State and Zaki Biam in Benue State in similar circumstances, we commend the military authorities for resisting the temptation to subject the two warring communities to a reprisal attack. By all means, the army should avoid a repeat of the history of having multiple tragedies,” he had said in a statement.

“We have confirmed that in line with the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gwabim Musa, some of the gunmen involved in the heinous crime have been arrested. The Delta State Government, the respective local governments, and the of two warring communities should assist the police to identify and isolate the remaining reckless murderers and unravel the motive behind the heinous crime.

“While we commiserate with the Nigerian Army and the bereaved families of the slain military officers and soldiers, we call on the Authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted into the case to prosecute the suspects without any delay.”

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