•Murder barbaric, worrisome paradox -Ohanaeze

From Molly Kilete, Abuja and Jude Chinedu, Enugu

The bodies of the 17 officers and soldiers killed at the Okuama community, Delta State, on March 14, while on a peacekeeping mission, will be laid to rest at the National Cemetery, Abuja, today.

A press invitation by the Nigerian Army, said  President Bola Tinubu will be the Special Guest of Honour at the event.

The commanding officer in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors and one Captain were killed by irate youths at Okuama community. The killers were also said to have ripped their bodies open and removed their hearts.

Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has condemned, in strong terms, the brutal killing of 16 military personnel.

In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia, yesterday, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation described the incident as dastardly, barbaric and a worrisome paradox.

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“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide condemns the brutal massacre of 16 military personnel who were killed, last Thursday, in the Okuama and Okoloba communities in Ughelli South and Bomadi LGAs of Delta State.

“On August 14, 2023, less than one year, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) announced that 36 officers were killed in Niger State in an ambush of troops by bandits.

“There are other instances that casualties have been recorded by Nigerian security personnel in an effort to carry out their legitimate duties of protecting lives and properties.

“The incidents of incessant deadly attacks by the civilians on the military, which is the last line of defence, is a very worrisome paradox,” the statement reads.

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanyu, while commiserating with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, the 181 Amphibious Battalion of the NA and the bereaved families of the fallen heroes, in the statement, advised Nigerian security operatives to maximise their skills to minimise or outrightly avoid casualties of the security operatives on duty.

Iwuanyanwu commended President Bola Tinubu for his prompt reaction to the unfortunate incident and urged the Presidency to leave no stone unturned to fish out the savage culprits, adding that it would serve as a deterrent to many others.