• Urges military to remain professional, maintain rules of engagement

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The umbrella body for youths in oil-rich Niger Delta, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) world-wide, has condemned and set up an investigation and fact-finding team on the recent killing of military personnel on official peace keeping assignment at Okuama Community in Delta State.

IYC President Alaye Theophilus, in a statement issued on Wednesday, described the killing as devilish and inhuman, calling on the military to act with all forms of professionalism and responsibility in fishing out the culprits and bringing them to book.

The IYC however appealed to the military to remain professional and maintain their rules of engagement as applied in other parts of the country in fighting criminals.

The statement noted: “We as a council condemn in its totality the killing of military personnel on official peace keeping assignment at Okuama Community in Delta State. This incident is devilish and inhuman and therefore, no sane minded can support such act in any guise. However, the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, once again condemns these killings in its entirety.”

The council further clarified that Okuama is not an Ijaw community, but a boundary community with some Ijaw communities in Delta State.

It maintained that Okuama is not also a community in Bayelsa state, stating categorically that the killing of military personnel did not happen in an Ijaw land and has nothing to do with the Ijaw nation.

It added: “As the largest ethnic block in the Niger Delta region, we are concerned about the stability and business friendly environment of the oil rich region, and as such whatever that happens in any part of the region is of serious concern to us.

“It is on this note that we have also set up an investigation and fact-finding team which is open to supporting the military and other security agencies to get to the root cause of the matter, and possibly bring the killers to face the law.”

The IYC also appealed to the military to remain professional and maintain their rules of engagement as applied in other parts of the country in fighting criminals.

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It noted: “We plead that when moving to fish out the killers that the whole community should not be destroyed because of the action of few individuals.

“As a people, what we have experienced over time is that, when an individual does something bad to military men operating in our region, reprisal from the military is always against the entire community.”

“As we speak, the fears of our people have shown up again as the said Okuama Community has been completely burnt down and all the occupants made homeless, and are now refugees in neighbouring communities.

“We will also draw your attention to the onslaught going on in one of our Ijaw communities in Bayelsa State, Igbomotoru 2 in Bomo-Ibe Clan where the Nigeria military invaded the community at early hours of Sunday, March, 17, 2024. They opened fire on innocent men, women and children. They killed over 40 people and still counting, without any form of provocation.

“The credible information available to us has it that after killing our innocent fathers, mothers and youths, that the military personnel burnt some of the bodies of the killed people and through some into the rivers for the body to flow away in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Houses have been burnt down and till date the military personnel have not told us what the people of Igbomotoru 2 did against them. They have not informed us if there was a breakdown of law and order, or if there are criminal elements in the community disturbing their operations,” the council wondered.

The IYC, therefore called on the Nigeria military to please tell the world what is happening in Igbomotoru 2 and why the killing of innocent Ijaw sons and daughters in such a manner.

“As a council, we condemn what the military is doing in Igbomotoru 2 community. What is happening in this community is purely a humanitarian crisis. As we speak, they have held every member of the community hostage as there is no entry or exit to the community. People are now starving to death.”

The council called on the President Bola Tinubu and the Chief of Defence Staff to call the military to order and advised them to be professional with their rules of engagement.