Nigerian army accuses Delta monarchs of complicity in murder of 17 soldiers

by protonketosupplement

The Chief of Defence Staff, Christopher Musa, has said monarchs in Okuama and other neighbouring communities in Delta State must have played a role in the murder of 17 soldiers in the state.

Suspected residents of the Okuama Community, on 14 March, ambushed and murdered the Commanding Officer of 181 Army Amphibious Battalion, two majors, one captain and 13 soldiers.

The troops were attacked while responding to a distress call arising from a clash between Okuama and Okoloba communities in the South-southern state.

In response, the Defence Headquarters, on Thursday, declared eight suspects wanted over the murder of the military personnel.

The traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom in the Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, Clement Ikolo, was among those declared wanted.

Mr Ikolo has since surrendered himself to the police in the state from where he was whisked away to the Nigerian army Headquarters in Abuja for questioning.

The monarch was still in army custody at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, members of the Traditional Rulers Council of Chiefs in Ewu-Urhobo, Delta State, in a statement on Saturday, called for the immediate release of Mr Ikolo.

The monarchs argued that they and their detained colleague were not connected to the communal crisis that led to the murder of the 17 soldiers.

“His Majesty (Ikolo) is in no way associated with the ongoing feud between Okoloba and Okuama Communities, let alone the tragic killing of army personnel,” the monarchs said in the statement.

‘They can’t deny their involvment’

But reacting when he appeared as a guest on Arise TV’s The Morning Show on Wednesday, Mr Musa, an army general, insisted that the monarchs from the Urhobo tribe within the warring communities could not deny involvement in the murder of the soldiers.

“I have heard the Urhobo leaders talking. I have very serious respect for elders. But I would also like elders to speak from a position of strength.

“They (Urhobo monarchs) cannot say that they do not know what is going on there. I am sure that you know that since they murdered the soldiers, there are a lot of human sacrifices ongoing in those areas and it was just part of them showing a way of saying they have strength and that was why they were able to kill the soldiers,” he said.

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“We know that a lot of people knew what was going on and kept quiet and that makes them complicit. Maybe he (Ikolo) did not take part directly, but he will not tell us he does not have the knowledge or understanding of what was going on (in Okuama).

“So, those (residents of the) communities (within the Urhobo tribe) know these criminals. Some of them benefit from this act of criminality. But investigations will unravel most of these things,” Mr Musa stated.

‘Bodies of slain soldiers were dismembered, private parts removed’

Mr Musa said the bodies of the slain soldiers were dismembered, with their private parts removed by the hoodlums who murdered them.

The chief of defence staff said the slain commanding officer of 181 Army Amphibious Battalion went to the Okuama unarmed because it was a peacekeeping mission and he had thought he could restore peace between the warring communities.

“When he (the commanding officer) tried to talk to them (the community members), they (the soldiers) were rounded up and shot. And not only shot, their body parts were cut, and their hands and private parts were removed. I think that’s what all Nigerians should stand up against,” he said.

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Real reason the hoodlums murdered the soldiers

Mr Musa said the hoodlums murdered the soldiers because they were angry that the commanding officer and his team had been destroying illegal refineries to end crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

“The attack (against the soldiers) was premeditated just because the group of criminals, cultists and militants that make a lot of money from crude oil theft, believe they are above board.

“They murdered the soldiers deliberately just because the commanding officer and his team were ensuring that any acts of pipeline vandalisation, crude oil theft, and illegal refineries were completely eradicated from that region,” he said.

The army chief claimed that the hoodlums had been benefitting from the illegal crude oil theft, adding that through the illegal activity, they had procured arms and ammunition for their criminal activities.


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