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Okuama Killings: Let displaced villagers return home, N-Delta leaders beg Tinubu



SOME leaders of the Niger Delta, yesterday, pleaded with President Bola Tinubu to allow the people of Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, who fled their homes about 12 days ago, following the siege to the community by the Nigerian Army over the killing of 17 soldiers, to return home and pick the pieces of their lives.

They also suggested that the federal government tackle cultism and give traditional rulers the power to control the youths to curtail their excesses.

A former Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Udom Ekpoudom, and the Otota (prime minister) of the ancient Olomu Kingdom in Delta State, Olorogun Albert Akpomudje, made the call amid a report that a fresh communal clash is looming between another Urhobo and Ijaw communities in Delta State.

READ ALSO: Lagos Lawyer Omirhobo Slams Delta Gov Over Escalation Of Okuama/Okoloba Crisis


This is even as former Deputy Director of Defence Administration, Commodore Kunle, Olawunmi, said yesterday that the massacre of the military personnel was politically motivated, saying most of the militants in the region were affiliated with major politicians in the corridors of power.

Let Okuama people breathe – Akpomudje, SAN
Akpomudje, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, said: “Nobody is happy with what happened but that should not mean that innocent people who are not connected, be made to suffer, they are still human beings, no matter their level.
“There must be a positive and urgent step by President Bola Tinubu and his government to ensure that Okuama villagers return to the communities and live normal lives. It is not easy to live outside where you have lived all your life, where they sleep; and how you feed. Therefore, the government must act fast.”

On the continuing siege to the community, he said: “The President should prevail on the Nigerian Army for restraint, while efforts should be made to fish out those responsible for the act. It is, of course, condemnable by any reasonable person.


“But the news we are hearing is not pleasant, the President of the country needs to step in and put a halt to their activities in the community.

Give monarchs power to control youths – Ekpoudom, DIG retd.
In his remarks, Retired Police DIG, Udom Ekpoudom, who spoke to Vanguard in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, advised the federal government to give traditional rulers more powers to control the residents in their domains.

“What happened in that community is very unfortunate, some people believe when soldiers or security agents are killed, it is not important, but they are also human beings. Nigeria’s government should deal squarely with the issue of cultism.


“I do not like the way they are handling cultism. When I was in the Nigeria Police Force, I treated anybody caught with arms as an armed robber. These cultists are usually under the influence of hard drugs such as hemp, and they feel that they are above the law.

“Because of that, they kill, rob and rape people anyhow. Therefore, what then is the difference between a cultist and an armed robber or a murderer? The best way to resolve the crisis is for traditional rulers to take control of the youths.’’

Govt. should let community leaders resolve dispute – Emmanson-John
Similarly, Akwa Ibom State Coordinator of the Gas Pipeline Host Communities, Comrade Kufre Emmanson-John, said: “On the way forward, I suggest all community leaders in that local government, comprising youth leaders and traditional rulers, should play a major role in the prevention of further crisis.


“I believe they know how the crisis can be handled. The Army occupying the community will not solve the problem. The military should leave the community to allow the community and traditional rulers to meet to see how they can talk to their people, and civilly resolve the matter.”

Crisis looms between Gbekebor, Ophorigbala communities

Meanwhile, sources said, yesterday, that another communal clash was in the offing between Gbekebor, an Ijaw community in Burutu Local Government Area, and Ophorigbala, an Urhobo community in Owawha Islan, Ughelli South Local Government Area.


The disagreement between the two communities has to do with the seizure of property, including fishing and farming gadgets.

‘’We learned that a senior military officer overseeing a military houseboat between the rival communities had intervened and called for a dialogue,’’ a source told Vanguard.

Killing of 17 soldiers in Delta has political undertones, says Commodore Olawunmi, retd
Meanwhile, former Deputy Director of Defense Administration, Commodore Kunle Olawunmi, retd, has said the massacre of soldiers in the Okuama community in Delta State was politically influenced as most of the militants and terrorists were affiliated with major politicians in the corridors of power.


Reacting to the incident in an interview with ARISE NEWS yesterday, Olawunmi said if the situation was not properly handled, President Bola Tinubu would be forced to combat terrorism on two fronts.

He said it was saddening seeing all efforts put in place by former President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua to curb these events from recurring, had come to nought.

“It has been a long time coming. If you recall, in this same Niger Delta, military men were being killed in 2005, 2006 and 2007, during Obasanjo’s time. We moved into Delta at that time and discovered that most of the things that were happening were mostly political.


“People that wanted to be governors, senators were using armed boys to cause fear in their opponents and after the election, they are often abandoned and when we went into Delta then, we discovered that most of the groups were affiliated to one politician or the other and the president called them to order and some of them stopped what they were doing but the majority of them refused.

‘’I don’t like to mention names that are still in the corridor of power on air. When the killing of soldiers was consistent and continued in 2007, Yar’ Adua called all the intelligence agencies to gather and gave them the order to put this thing to an end and this thing was stopped within one year of giving us that order.

READ ALSO: N-Delta ethnic groups battle Ijaw over PAP coordinator


‘’It’s very disheartening that this is happening again, considering the amount of money the federal government spent, the number of men and materials we lost to put this to the point of this amnesty program that you are talking about today. it’s very painful to see that all those efforts during Yar’ Adua’s time have come to nought.”

Olawunmi also stated that the resurgence of these attacks in the Niger Delta was in line with preparation for the upcoming elections in 2027.

“The politicians have started again. I have the DNA structure of Delta in my hand. Whatever you see going on in Delta now is political. What they are trying to do is warm up for 2027 and at the end of the day, they are going to make the federal government fight on two fronts.


“If you open the flank in the Niger Delta with what is happening in the north, the central government is going to collapse,’’ he said.

He also spoke against the ineffective use of the kinetic approach in tackling security challenges in the Niger Delta, and expressed concerns over the continuous loss of personnel to militant leaders in the region.

Commodore Olawunmi added: “The Amnesty Program I designed personally and what I have discovered is that it’s not being implemented but has been corrupted completely and that is not what we planned.


‘’The idea of amnesty came from the defense intelligence agency but it was guided by Yar’adua himself. We had our options and he didn’t want bloodshed and that is why everybody is enjoying what amnesty is. The idea of amnesty was reinforced by the Yar’ Adua option.

“The issue of military compliance, of course, has always been there. I will not defend the military on that. Even now, the military gets involved in bunkering activities. Whatever is going on in that state, I know because I have not left Delta since I left the military, I know exactly what is going on there now, that’s why I look at the big picture and say it is more political than economic.

“The federal government is always making the mistake of trying to appease the militants or terrorists and so on. The guy that is being looked for right now, I can’t mention his name, they should investigate, he has Tantita protection. He was given part of the contract of the Tantita project.”


Addressing the issue of intelligence failure, he emphasized the role of politicians in hampering security efforts, adding that intelligence initiatives were often thwarted by the political class due to their inability to comprehend technical data.

“What people don’t understand about intelligence is that the practitioners themselves don’t have a problem. There are many processes we have tried to do in the past that the politicians will just kill it. Once it finishes from the DHQ and passed to them, there is nothing you can do after that.

“It is not like we fail most of the time but just because the political class is not as educated as they should. Most of them are not worthy of those offices.


“They can’t even interpret technical data that you send to them. They won’t even have time. So, I think we have a problem with the political class and not intelligence failure,’’ Olawunmi said.

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