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Okuama Killings & Role Of The Nigerian Military




The rumours going round now is that the Federal government is planning to build a military base in Okuama community. If true I advise President Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to do it.

Okuama is the ancestral home village of Okuama people that has existed for centuries. Sacking entire community is not a sign of strength by Tinubu who is the Commander-In-Chief. It is a sign of weakness by the federal government of Nigeria.

And again wiping out an entire community in this 21st century is barbaric and uncalled for, if really true that a military base is being planned to be built there. I doubt if the rumours are true, but however I advise Tinubu to find a sustainable solution for peace and not adding ‘salt to injury’.

The Nigerian Police should be directed to fish out those perpetrators and those who masterminded the supposed failed peace mission that led to the killing of soldiers and innocent locals of Okuama and burning down of the entire community and be brought to book accordingly through the law courts.

Burning down the entire community and sacking locals from their village is undemocratic and unlawful. Sacking the entire community is never a solution to maintain peace.

Tinubu should build the required peace and government should act within the law. If true that such plans are in place I advise Tinubu to ignore the call to sack the entire community. Those who lured and invited the soldiers to Okuama community that led to the killing of soldiers must be fished out and face the wrath of the law accordingly.

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What is the role of soldiers in a democratic society? “The main Task of a military is usually defined as defence of the Nigerian State and its interests against external armed threats.
(B) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air
(C) Supress insurrection and act in aid of civil authorities to restore order; when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly” as defined by Wikipedia.

Did the soldiers that were killed in the supposed failed peace mission in Okuama complied with ‘legimate rules’ of the military before they embarked on the mission? The military occupation in the oil & gas assets including Pipeline Right of Ways, Gas Plants, Flow Stations, Crude oil Export terminals is as a result of the militancy and illegal bunkering activities in the Niger-Delta areas.

The military were not drafted to the Niger-Delta as manning police stations or to go for peace mission in the local communities. The reason for drafting solders to Niger-Delta region is to safe guard the oil and gas assets with oil company surveillance contractors and not to go for supposed peace mission.

The military are not trained for civil matters and to settle land disputes or to replace Police or DSS.
The supposed failed peace mission that led to the killing of soldiers and innocent Okuama community locals and burning of houses belonging to innocent locals is confusing.

I condemn the killings of soldiers and innocent Locals and burning of houses in Okuama community of Ughelli South in Delta state. It is a fact that one of the senior ranking officers and some of his men were stationed at Utorogu Gas Plant to safeguard the oil and gas assets in Utorogu field of which Okuama is not a part.

There is no oil and gas assets in Okuama community and so the soldiers have no business to be in Okuama community for that matter.
It is not the responsibility of the military to go to any community. The soldiers ought to have confined themselves to the oil and gas premises and Pipeline RIGHT OF WAY to safeguard the assets in collaboration with the oil and gas company pipeline surveillance contractors.

Why should trained senior ranking officers who were supposed to be in their duty posts allow themselves to be invited or lured by some persons to go for such supposed failed peace mission? There is need to engage independent external investigators to identify those who invited and lured the soldiers for the failed peace mission and give their names to the police to be arrested and prosecuted in the law court of justice accordingly.

There is also need to arrest those who placed distress calls to invite and lured the soldiers that were killed. It is time for Federal government to define roles of the military. It is not strange that soldiers are now seen at social events to guard VIPs. Soldiers now escort individuals and rich people.

Whoever that wants police protection can apply but it is not the role of soldiers to go into civil matters and be involved in supposed peace keeping within Nigeria. “Nothing we no go hear for Nigeria. No be soldier work”.

The 181 Amphibious Battalion is known for performing the roles of police in Delta. Precisely during the 2023 election a youth corper who was ad hoc INEC presiding officer was gunned down by soldiers from 181 Amphibious Battalion in Umutu areas in Delta North.

The CP Delta is even saying the police can’t go to Okuama due to military operations in Okuama community. Is it the responsibility of soldiers to go to communities? The only condition the soldiers can move into communities is when the police is overwhelmed and being directed by the President in line with approvals of the National Assembly.

I think the military should know their roles and not just deciding on its own to avoid future deeper bloody conflicts with civilians. No justification for killing soldiers and civilians and burning houses of innocent locals.

Soldiers are not trained to resolve land disputes between communities and it is not their responsibility to allocate to themselves the role of conflict resolution experts/specialists. We need to look deeper into this.

It is unfortunate that Soldiers were killed and I condemn the killings because the land dispute doesn’t worth the killing of soldiers and community locals on the supposed failed peace keeping mission.

The land dispute between Okuama and Okoloba doesn’t worth
the blood of any military officer and local of the community and burning down of Okuama village.
One would have expected President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to visit Okuama community in Ughelli South of Delta state where it is believed the soldiers and locals were killed and locals sacked from their community.

The killings in Okuama is worth the visit of President Tinubu to see for himself and make a public statement rather than waiting for doctored reports only.

Zik Gbemre
March 22,2024

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