From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has described as cowards the killers of 16 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, two majors and a captain while on a peacekeeping mission on Thursday in Okuoma, Bomadi LGA of Delta state.

In a statement he personally signed titled “Statement on the killing of Nigerian soldiers on a peace mission to Okuoma community in Delta State”, the President vowed “The cowardly offenders responsible for this heinous crime will not go unpunished.”

President Tinubu who described their grievous and needles,  said he joins well-meaning Nigerians and the armed forces to mourn the gallant soldiers.

He condoled with the families of these fallen soldiers, their colleagues and their loved ones, noting that the incident, once again, demonstrates the dangers faced by the nation’s servicemen and women in the line of duty.

President Tinubu said: “I salute their heroism, courage and uncommon grit and patriotism.”

The statement read:

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 Okuoma Community, Ughelli South Local Government Area 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. A Commanding Officer, two Majors, one Captain and twelve 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 Okuama 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.

The Defence Headquarters and Chief of Defence Staff 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.

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

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria