17 Soldiers: Chilling Discoveries At Okuama




By Zagazola Makama

Since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu vowed to ensure justice on the brutal killing of 17 soldiers at Okuama community, Ughelli Local Government Area, Delta State, and his consequent matching order to the Nigerian Army to thoroughly investigate and fish out the perpetrators of the dastardly act, facts revealed by every passing day firmly point at the entire community as complicit, not just the group of militants who actually carried out the execution.

In response to the President’s directives, the military high command ordered the extension of the search for suspected killers of the 17 soldiers in the Okuama community. Before the Operation, leaders of the community alleged that soldiers had begun targeting innocent civilians in the community rather than going after the miscreants who committed the crime.

Further searches fan across the community and sink deeper into the affairs and proclivities of its residents have revealed, with firmer confirmation, that the entire Okuama, from its traditional and community leaders and other elites down to the lowest residents in socioeconomic and political status is a community of militants thriving on terror.

But even before the Operation to find the culprit began, leaders of the community had orchestrated an allegation in the media that soldiers were targeting innocent civilians in the community rather than going after the miscreants who committed the crime. This move which some observers saw as being contrived to cast the military in bad light and to demonize its operation, did not deter them from going after the killers of the soldiers and masterminds of the crime.

Military investigations, which have, all through, been conducted in the finest and most-careful fashion to guard against incriminating innocent citizens, according to the presidential directive, findings have been revealing the most-chilling set up of Okuama and its surrounding communities.

First, all expressions of sympathy and commiseration by the traditional rulers, tending to exonerate themselves from the act, as well as their commitment to aid the military in the search for the perpetrators, are all feigned. The wider the search, and the deeper the investigation, the more glaring the complicity of the community’s elites and traditional rulers.

Second, and most-chilling, the deeper the military’s search across the community to disarm the residents, in compliance with directives, the more it is discovered that the entire community is sitting on an expansive cache of arms, which the youthful militants deploy to unleash terror on the behest and command of their elders and elites.

On April 10, 2024, troops of 63 Brigade conducted a raid/ cordon and search operations at Olota Community of Ugheli South LGA of Delta State confirming all these facts about Okuama and its surrounding communities with regard to their stockpile of arms for terror activities.

During the Search of the residence of one Mr Kenneth, who escaped on sighting the troops, the team discovered one G3 rifle, 853 rounds of 7.62 MM Nato and 19 rounds of 7.62 Special MM.

A further search of other locations within the community led to the discovery of 4 G3 rifles and Magazines, one pump action gun and 3 Sub Machine Guns, Magazines and 476 carriages. Additionally, the troops recovered 5 dane guns and one big plastic containing substances suspected to be Carbis satin.

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Armed with robust intelligence effort, the military were said to have stormed a number of hideouts and homes of individuals suspected to be complicit in the heinous crime. The operations, however, paid off with the arrest of three leaders of the Olota community in Ugheli South LGA of the state.

The arrest of the three identified individuals followed a painstaking effort of the military to track down the masterminds and killers of the soldiers. The manhunt of the perpetrators has compelled the military to look beyond Okuama community as they are said to have extended their dragnet to surrounding communities and across the creeks of the Niger Delta region where they suspect that the killers might be hiding.

The troops are also in search of weapons which they believe are stockpiled in many homes within the general area.

One Intelligence source who spoke to Zagazola Makama, said the communities where the troops have conducted searches were full of weapons and the directive handed over to the troops was to mop up the arms and ammunition and disarm the communities.

According to him, the troops will not relent until that particular order has been carried out to the letter. He said the domination of the general area is in progress while the search for weapons belonging to the slain military personnel and culprits in the dastardly act continues. “All these communities have what they call, ‘community weapons’ ‘ which they use to cause havoc here”, he said.

Recall that on the 14th day of March, Lt. Colonel A. H. Ali, the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion, led three other officers and 13 soldiers to the Okuama Community to mediate in the lingering dispute with Okoloba Community, and were killed by members of the Okuama community.

They went as peacemakers and peacekeepers, respectfully seeking to bring an end to the hostilities between the two communities. They did not go with tanks, machine guns, and other weapons. They were on a mission for peace.

Zagazola Makama, is a Counter Insurgency Expert and Security Analyst in the Lake Chad region


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