From Joseph Obukata, Warri

The Delta Online Publishers Forum (DOPF), has expressed concern over issues of alleged cases of extra-judicial killings during military operations across the country, saying that while it’s condemnable to kill a soldiers in line of duty, it is imperative that clearance operations prioritize citizen rights and safety.

DOPF drew attention to the subject while condemning the heinous crime where five military officers and twelve soldiers were murdered in cold-blood during a purported peace-keeping mission over land dispute communal clash between Okuama and Okoloba communities, Ughelli South and Bomadi local government areas of Delta State.

In a statement signed by its chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Ochonogor Enebeli, and Secretary, Mr. Shadrack Onitsha, DOPF consoled the Nigerian Army and Okuama Community following the gruesome and devastating loss of lives and destruction in the recent tragic and unfortunate incidents.

“The heinous killing of 17 military personnel and the subsequent collateral damages which has consumed numerous civilians in a frenzy of reprisal attacks, deeply saddens and diminishes us all as humans”, the group said.

While calling for “swift justice for the gallant fallen heroes”, DOPF urged the military authority to uphold rules of engagement and established judicial procedures, especially as defined in Democratic systems against emotional sentiment in tackling aftermath of the incident.

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Declaring that Nigeria was not in a state of war or widespread civil unrest, the DOPF appealed to the Army High Command to exercise restraint in the aftermath of the attack so that innocent residents and indigenes don’t bear the brunt of the crime of a few.

The group, also called for dialogue between government authorities and the military to facilitate access to Okuama Community for humanitarian assessment and aid distribution.

The statement further reads, “Additionally, a thorough investigation into the remote and attendant causes of the Okuama conflict, as already directed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, must necessarily include alleged cases of extra-judicial killings during military operations, which will not only be crucial to uphold justice and maintain public trust, but will hopefully also serve as a watershed reference in addressing subsequent brewing conflicts of similar symptomatic indices across the country.

“Our thoughts are with the military and Okuama Community during this difficult time. Let us unite in our commitment to integrity, accountability, and respect for human rights for the betterment of our nation”.