URS Urges President Tinubu to Call Military to Order Over Annihilation of Okuama

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An intellectual group of influencial Urhobo professionals based in different parts of the globe, Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS) at the weekend called on President Bola Tinubu to call the military hierarchy and her personnel to order over their continued siege on Okuama and other neighboring communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State over the dastardly killing of 17 soldiers last month.

URS in a press statement stated that President Tinubu needs to rescind his earlier presidential directive to the military to “do whatever they can to apprehend the killers of the military personnel”, saying that the directive was being misjudged by the military to annihilate Okuama and other neighbouring communities in their search of the suspects.

It would be recalled that unknown gunmen had on 14th March, 2024, ambushed and murdered 17 military personnel including the commanding officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion Bomadi, two majors and a captain while on a peace mission to Okuama community.

While condemning and describing as unjustifiable the gruesome murder of the military personnel, URS commiserated with the family of the slain soldiers, and demanded for an independent judicial panel of inquiry into the Okuama tragedy.

According to the statement, “the Urhobo people commiserate with the families of the slain soldiers and offer her condolences to the Federal Government of Nigeria for which the military serves as a symbol of power. Furthermore, the group said “we cannot continue to be silent in the face of the deliberate act to wipe Okuama off the face of the earth as embarked upon by the Nigerian Army”.

The group insisted that the kind of fire power that will eliminate that number of soldiers was lacking among the agrarian Okuama people. Moreso, they stated that the Urhobo people’s unalloyed loyalty to the Federal Government has made them to show an uncommon respect bordering on veneration to the military and never in the history of the Urhobo people have they hurt a soldier or taken up arms against the Nigerian state.

Hence they described what is happening at Okuama as a tragic scapegoating intended to destroy an entire community by a military that abandoned the rules of engagement with citizens as enshrined in global best practices noting that the military has turned its arsenal against the citizens it should be protecting thus making Okuama to become victim of state violence.

In the statement, URS equally faulted the conflicting utterances coming from the peak of the military high command. According to URS, ” The Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, has offered four different narratives on the Okuama incident. His first thread was that the soldiers were killed by youths of Okuama. The next line was that the military knows the killers of the soldiers and that they were closing in on them and he went on to mention one Amagbein from Igbomotoru in Bayelsa State. In another narrative he ascribed the killings to oil bunkering. His latest storyline is that Okuama people hired mercenaries to kill the soldiers. In one of his media outings, General Musa said Lt. Col. A. H. Ali the slain commander alone could have leveled all of Okuama if he had been armed. The same General Musa forgot that he had told the world that the killers of the soldiers made away with their arms which the military is now looking for in Okuama. Are these conflicting stories from just one man about one incident not enough pointers that the military should look elsewhere for the killers of the soldiers?” the group asked.


Furthermore, the URS’s statement signed by Dr. John Uwa, stated that the military has leveled Okuama leaving the town with only two buildings standing: a church and a school, noting that the number of Okuama lives wasted by Nigerian soldiers since the 14th March incident is unspecified, but many. The group stated further that the few surviving people now live in forests cohabiting with wild animals and reptiles, dying of starvation even as the military has blocked all access to Okuama. Besides the military according to the group, continue to attack nearby Urhobo communities since the incident happened.

While demanding for the immediate release of the traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom, His Royal Majesty Clement Oghenerukevwe Ikolo, who had been in detention at the Defence Headquarters over the killing of the soldiers, the Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS), through its Secretary, Dr. John Uwa, has described the continued detention of the traditional ruler by the military as a desecration of Urhobo traditions and the Nigerian constitution and therefore called on the Federal Government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to unravel what actually happened as a military panel of inquiry cannot be a fair judge in its own case. The group equally called on President Bola Tinubu, to order the military out of Okuama and it’s neighboring coastal communities as well as demanded that the federal authority rebuild Okuama. How the federal government will handle this demand remains to be seen

https// www.south-south.com

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