Nigerian Army Reacts to Alleged Killing of Residents of Delta Community by Soldiers

Residents of the Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, have narrated how soldiers opened fire on them and killed about 50 persons.

This is just as the governor of Delta State, Sheriff Oborevwori, visited the embattled community, four days after 16 military personnel, including a lieutenant colonel, lost their lives in an ambush.

Vanguard reports, the residents spoke from hiding, as they fled into the bush after the March 14 ambush of soldiers.

However, military authorities described their claim as propaganda.

Army Headquarters said: “Regrettably, the community complicit in this dastardly act has resorted to media propaganda and shenanigans, rather than engage in a positive effort to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”

Residents’ story
The terrified indigenes, who preferred anonymity, said there were many dead bodies in the bush where they were taking cover.

They echoed that the military personnel arrived in two gunboats purportedly for a peace talk with the community chairman, and leaders on Thursday, March 14, and the community warmly received and offered them kolanut, leading to a peaceful dialogue.

However, tension escalated when the military insisted on whisking away the community chairman and some leaders for further questioning after the peace talks, which the people refused.

The refusal allegedly angered the military men, who opened fire right at the town hall, where they held a meeting with the people, resulting in casualties within the community.

They did not explain the role of the community in the dastard killing of the 16 later the same day, but revealed that on March 15, the military returned for a second attack, wherein they set ablaze houses in the community, forcing residents to flee.

One resident said, “On March 14, military personnel visited Okuama and the people welcomed them. They first said they wanted to walk around the community; they walked around and said they wanted to go to the town hall for a peace talk. The people entertained them as it is customary with such visit.

“They asked for the community chairman and community leaders. They sat with them and they held peace talks together. After that, they asked the community chairman, and some other leaders to follow them.

“The people said they have already held peace talks with them, but they said they must take the leaders away.

“The community refused, and from there, the army turned the whole story to violence, right there in the community town hall, the army started shooting our people there.

“People started running, some were killed instantly, and people ran away because nobody expected shooting by the army that very day.

‘They killed 70’
“Then, the army left, but within a while, they came back with more reinforcement, gunboats, and other things.

“And instantly, about 20 persons were killed, and when they came back again, they began to shoot, they killed nothing less than 50 persons on that day.

“Then, the following day, they mobilized again, some from Bomadi, Okwagbe, they came together and burned the whole community down, that was on March 15.”