From Joseph Obukata, Warri

The Okoloba Federated Community (OFC) has raised concerns about the false narrative in a national newspaper attributing the killings of 16 soldiers in Okuama community, an Urhobo enclave in Ughelli South Local Government area of Delta State, to irate Ijaw youths.

  The group, in a petition to President Bola Tinubu which was copied relevant security agencies, expressed shock over what they described as a deliberate misrepresentation of facts in the murder of an army commander and soldiers in a gun battle in Delta State.

OFC, in a petition, said the report as contained in the newspaper was a deliberate attempt to shift blame to the peaceful and law-abiding Okoloba community, in Bomadi LGA that has long been victims of aggression and violence from the neighbouring Okuama community.

Chairman of OFC, Mr. Clement Koki, who signed the petition, said it was important to clarify that the conflict that led to the intervention of the Joint Task Force (JTF) was not between two Ijaw communities in Bomadi LGA, as falsely reported.  He disclosed that Okoloba is an Ijaw community, while Okuama is a neighboring Urhobo community in Ughelli South LGA.

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According to him, the gun duel took place in Okuama community, where the soldiers were tragically killed. Continuing, he said that the Delta State government was aware of the dispute between the two communities and it has made efforts to promote peace.  Koki explained that the Okuama-Urhobo community recently defied the peace deal by kidnapping and later killing an Okoloba community member.  According to him, this incident, along with previous threats and attacks prompted OFC to send an SOS to the security agencies for intervention.

OFC, therefore, condemned the deliberate misrepresentation in the national newspaper and called for an immediate retraction and apology. OFC noted that the Monarch of Ewu Kingdom, HRM Emmanuel Okolo, had publicly acknowledged that the killings occurred in Okuama, a community within his kingdom.

Meanwhile, OFC has commended the sincerity of the Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborovweri, for publicly mentioning the location of the killings and for his efforts to maintain peace in the state. The community appealed to the Federal Government, Delta State Government, and law enforcement agencies to take decisive action against the aggression displayed by the Okuama-Urhobo community.

The group extended its condolences to the families of the bereaved officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and urged the authorities not to overlook the horrific carnage carried out by the Okuama-Urhobo community.

The petition was sent the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Inspector General of Police, and Department of State Security Services. It averred that their plea for justice and security in the area is urgent to protect the defenseless and peace-loving Okoloba Ijaw people.