JUST IN: Okuama Community Would Have Been Levelled If Slain 17 Military Personnel Had Been Unarmed; Their Killing Was Premeditated – Defence Chief

The CDS said that the Commanding Officer felt that the threat was not high, hence, he went to the community unarmed, stressing that if he had gone armed, he would have erased everybody in the community....READ FULL ARTICLE

Gen. Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff, has reversed his stance, asserting that the killing of 17 military personnel in Okuama Community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, was premeditated by cultists and militants.

According to the CDS, the military officers were deliberately killed because the Commanding Officer of the 181 Amphibious Battalion and his team were ensuring that any act of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft and setting up of illegal refineries was completely eradicated from the region.

The CDS said that the Commanding Officer felt that the threat was not high, hence, he went to the community unarmed, stressing that if he had gone armed, he would have erased everybody in the community.

SaharaReporters had reported how residents of the community disclosed what caused the shooting when some Nigerian Army officers visited their community for a “peace discussion.”

The residents said that the slain military personnel arrived in two gunboats on March 14, purportedly for peace talks with the community chairman and leaders, and the community greeted them warmly and offered them kola nuts, resulting in a peaceful dialogue.

The residents added that the tension in the community escalated after the military personnel insisted on taking away the community chairman and some leaders for further questioning after the peace talks, which the people resisted.

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The refusal, it was alleged, enraged the military personnel, who opened fire in the town hall where they were holding a meeting with the residents, resulting in casualties in the village.

The residents accused the soldiers of unexpectedly opening fire on residents and reportedly killing about 50 persons, adding that this led many of the residents to flee the community and hide in forests.

But Musa who spoke while featuring on an Arise News programme said,“The attack was premeditated just because there are groups of criminals, cultists and militants that, because they make a lot of money from crude oil theft, believe they are above board.

“And they did this deliberately just because the Commanding Officer and his team were ensuring that any act of pipeline vandalisation, crude oil theft, illegal refineries were completely eradicated from that region. That is part of the issues that came up.

“For him (the commanding officer) to be killed just like a chicken, beheaded, disembodied is unacceptable; and we are happy that the Commander-in-Chief (President Tinubu) has given us the mandate to recover the arms and to arrest the perpetrators.

“I know a lot of comments have been made by different kinds of people, some from lack of understanding.

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“When you have a joint task force, a joint task force involving members of the armed forces such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, we have the police, the DSS, the DNIA, and every other security agency are part of it.

“When we have an arrest, we have a joint investigation team. It is not like the army is taking laws into their hands. I have heard comments about what were they doing.

“Once we are deployed on operation, we have the right and the mandate to arrest all acts of criminality within that area. They were there deployed legally. They were doing a legal operation.

“It was because the Commanding Officer felt that the threat was not that high, that was why he went there and felt he could discuss it with the individual. He did not go armed. That gallant officer, if he had gone armed, he would have erased everybody in that place.

“He felt they were Nigerians he could talk to and when he stepped up to talk to them with his team, they were rounded up and shot. They were not only shot, their body parts were cut. Their hearts and private parts were removed. That is one thing that all Nigerians should stand against.”

He continued,“Urhobo leaders cannot say they do not know what was going on there. Since they decapitated the bodies of the officers, there is a lot of human sacrifice that is ongoing within that general area. It was just part of them showing that they have strength and that is why they were able to cut the heads, the hands, disembodied them, removed the hearts and other things.

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“I don’t know what was the intent. But whatever the intent is, we remain focused, we remain committed. Our operation was highly regulated. I mean, ideally before now, we would have been in a situation where we would have gone and flattened all that area.

But it was measured because we felt not everybody was involved but we knew that a lot of people knew what was going on and kept quiet and that makes them complicit.

“We are not animals, we are not barbaric, that we just go around killing people. If they had not touched our armed forces, nobody would have been there.”...READ FULL ARTICLE

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