Tinubu orders action against killers of 16 officers, soldiers

GodGift Ifunanya
6 Min Read

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu yesterday expressed deep displeasure over the killing of army officers and soldiers on a peace mission in a Delta State community, describing it as a direct affront to the nation.

Outrage greeted the dastardly act yesterday from Nigerians, who viewed the situation as unbecoming.

The military, which expressed indignation, was ordered by the President to fish out the killers and bring them to book.

The President in a statement, he personally signed, directed the military to immediately arrest the perpetrators.

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Others who yesterday condemned the killings are Delta State Governor Sheriff Oborevwori; Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Northern Governors’ Forum, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU), Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) and Clement Ikolo, the traditional ruler of the Ewu Kingdom where Okuoma is located.

A Lieutenant Colonel, two majors, and one captain, along with 12 soldiers and a civilian, were ambushed and killed on Thursday in Okuoma, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

The operatives were said to have gone to the Ijaw community to free one Anthony Aboh, an indigene of neighbouring Okoloba, who was allegedly abducted on Wednesday over a land dispute between the two communities.

Residents of Okuoma had reportedly fled in their hundreds before some of their homes were set ablaze.

Reporter gathered that there was a strong military presence in the troubled community.

Condoling with the “families of these fallen soldiers, their colleagues and their loved ones,” the President assured that those behind the “heinous crime will not go unpunished.”

“The Defence Headquarters and Chief of Defence Staff (Gen. Christopher Musa) 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 tranquillity in every part of Nigeria,” he said.

The President added: “On Saturday morning, the Nigerian people and I woke up to the dreadful news of the unprovoked killing of our brave military personnel during a rescue mission to the Okuoma community of Delta State.

“The incident occurred on Thursday, 14 March, 2024 when our troops, responding to a crisis between Okuama and Okoloba communities in Delta State were ambushed.

A Commanding Officer, two Majors, one Captain and 12 soldiers sadly lost their lives. One civilian was also killed.

“As the Commander-in-Chief, I join all well-meaning Nigerians and the men and women of our armed forces to mourn and express my profound grief over the needless death of our gallant soldiers.

“I extend my profound condolences to the families of these fallen soldiers, their colleagues and their loved ones.

“The military high command is already responding to this incident. The cowardly offenders responsible for this heinous crime will not go unpunished.

“This incident, once again, demonstrates the dangers faced by our servicemen and women in the line of duty. I salute their heroism, courage and uncommon grit and patriotism.

“As a nation, we must constantly remember and honour all those who have paid the ultimate price to keep our country safe, strong and united.

“The officers and men who died in the Okuoma community have joined the pantheon of great men and women who gave their all, with honour, in the service of our fatherland.

“Members of our armed forces are at the heart and the core of our nationhood. Any attack on them is a direct attack on our nation. We will not accept this wicked act.

“May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and keep the members of our armed forces safe.”

In Asaba, the Delta State capital, Governor Oborevwori said his government was “gravely disturbed by the killings of the officers and soldiers because the act was as alien to the culture of Deltans”.

Like the President, he commiserated with the families of slain military men. 

“This incident is despicable and not in sync with the culture and tradition of Deltans.

It runs contrary to the values and path of peace that the state government is promoting,” he lamented in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Festus Ahon.

The governor assured that his administration would “take all measures necessary to fish out all those behind this dastardly act and ensure they are made to face the full wrath of the law.”

He appealed to all citizens and residents of the state to remain law-abiding as the government would continue to protect lives and property in the state.

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