The recent killing of 17 soldiers in Okuama community of Delta State has been widely condemned by Nigerians. The victims included a Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors, one Captain and 13 soldiers. They were reportedly on a peacekeeping mission in Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, when they were gruesomely murdered.

President Bola Tinubu has also condemned the tragic incident and ordered security agents to apprehend the killers of the officers and soldiers in Delta State and bring them to justice. “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 tranquility in every part of Nigeria,” President Tinubu vowed.

The President gave the order when he hosted the leadership of the Senate to a dinner to break the Ramadan fast at the State House. The Delta State governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, has also urged security agencies to unmask those behind the dastardly act in the state.

Since the ugly incident happened, some soldiers have reportedly been on rampage and setting houses ablaze in Okuama in retaliation. Some members of the community have allegedly been killed by some irate soldiers. The regrettable incident has further underscored the rising spate of insecurity across the country and the frosty relationship between the military and the civilians in recent times.

We recall the unfortunate incidents that led to the massacres in Odi, Bayelsa State, and Zaki Biam in Benue State, during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The Odi mayhem was an attack by the armed forces on November 20, 1999, against the predominantly Ijaw town of Odi in Bayelsa State. The invasion was triggered by the murder of 12 personnel of the Nigerian Police by a suspected criminal gang near Odi. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the exercise.

The 2001 Zaki-Biam incident which led to the murder of hundreds of unarmed Tiv people was a surreptitious operation by the army in retaliation to the killing of 19 soldiers, whose mutilated bodies were found on 12 October 2001, near some Tiv villages in Benue State.

Related News

We condemn the slaughter of the 17 soldiers in Okuama as well as the gruesome murder of 12 policemen who went for a rescue mission in Delta State. The slain policemen were in the state to rescue their colleagues in Ohoro Forest when the unfortunate incident occurred.

The killing of soldiers and other security agents on duty has become rampant across the country. Everything must be done by the federal government to curb the worrisome development which can worsen the relationship between soldiers and civilians. We urge the security agencies to arrest those responsible for the killing of the soldiers and the policemen and bring them to book. The perpetrators should be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the land. Punishing them adequately will deter others from committing such heinous crimes in future. Let the two incidents be probed.

There is urgent need to improve the relationship between the military and civilians and make it more cordial. We recommend the same to other security agencies as well. All Nigerians should learn to live in peace and harmony. Therefore, all the parties in the Okuama incident should maintain peace and eschew violence. No group should resort to self-help or jungle justice. Let the soldiers desist from sacking the villages and attacking the old, vulnerable members of the community. The resort to jungle justice will lead to anarchy.

It is likely that the unbridled circulation of illegal arms and ammunition across the country must have given rise to violent crimes and attacks on security agents. We call on the government to commence another operation to mop up all illegal weapons in the country. The last exercise was not far-reaching enough. At the same time, the nation’s security architecture needs to be overhauled and fine-tuned in line with the present realities.

The policing system should be restructured so that we can have several layers of policing as obtains in other federations. The current centralised police system cannot guarantee the internal security of the country. That is why the call for state police has been intensified. Let the federal and state governments put the necessary frameworks for its establishment and implementation.