Okuama: Army invades another Delta community, arrests 10 persons, razes homes

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UGHELLI: Troops of the Nigerian Army conducting a cordon-and-search operation over the March 14 killing of 17 military personnel at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, yesterday invaded another community, Olota, and allegedly whisked away no fewer than 10 persons.

This came on a day Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and retired judges ripped apart the Board of Inquiry constituted by Defence Headquarters to investigate the March 14 killing of military personnel at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government of Delta State, saying it had no powers to do so.

But Vanguard could not reach Prosper Evuarherhe, the President-General of Olota, but an eyewitness said the military men left with the community’s chairman, Matthew Olokpa, and over 10 others.

He said: “The over 200 soldiers entered Olota in three gunboats this morning (yesterday). They held the Chairman, Matthew Olokpa, Bigi Edjekpewhu, German Obiokute, Kenneth Okorodudu Atua, and others.”

The witness disclosed that the soldiers razed some houses in the community, 50 kilometres from Okuama, and took with them almost all the speedboats they sighted in the jetty.

“Gunshots roared in Olota today (yesterday); we ask those in authority to intervene and tell the soldiers to leave Olota in peace. They left with those apprehended, no fewer than 10 persons. They burnt Germany’s house and two others and destroyed one.

“They also left with many speed boats at the jetty belonging to residents. They beat the community chairman to a stupor before they moved him with the others, along with a 75-engine-powered boat belonging to Kenneth. This latest crisis may not be connected with Okuama.”

Recall that the army had visited the same community and others, including Arhavwarien, Orere, and Omosuomo, more than a week ago, searching for arms and ammunition snatched from the dead soldiers and fleeing suspects.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and retired judges have ripped apart the Board of Inquiry constituted by Defence Headquarters to investigate the March 14 killing of military personnel at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government of Delta State.

They told the federal government that the correct thing to do was to institute a judicial commission of inquiry into the incident or ask Delta State government to set one up.

The military panel, headed by Air Vice-Marshal David Ajayi, started sitting, Wednesday, in Warri. However, Okuama community, whose leaders and lawyer, said the displaced residents were hiding and suffering in the forests because of the cordon-and-search operation by the Army, rebuffed the hearing.

But six representatives of Okoloba community in Bomadi Local Government Area, whose boundary dispute with Okuama triggered the tragic episode, appeared before the Ajayi-led board of inquiry on Wednesday afternoon, while officials prevented reporters from covering the proceedings.

Speaking to Vanguard, Olorogun Albert Akpomudje, SAN, and Life Bencher, former Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko SAN, and retired President of the Delta State Area Customary Court, Miakpor Emiaso, said the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, did not have the power to set up a public inquiry into the Okuama incident.

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