Okuama Massacre: Military Board of Inquiry Commences Sitting in Warri

The Military Board of Inquiry constituted by the Defence Headquarters to investigate the 17 soldiers killed in Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta, has commenced sitting.

The panel convened on Wednesday at the Governor’s Office Annexe in Warri South Local Government Area of the state.

The meeting, which was scheduled for 2.00 p.m., however, started at about 3.45 p.m. with six stakeholders from the Okoloba community, Bomadi Local Government Area in attendance.

The Okuama community was, however, not represented.

The Director-General, Political and Security Services in Delta, David Tonwe, who ushered the Okoloba stakeholders into the meeting room, however, told newsmen they were not permitted to be part of the meeting.

The slain soldiers, made up of a commanding officer, two Majors, a Captain, and 13 others, were said to have been ambushed and murdered on March 14.

They were said to have been responding to the crisis between Okoloba and Okuama communities who had allegedly been engaged in an age-long land dispute.

Gov. Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta had on Friday received the military board at the governor’s office annexe, where he called for a transparent investigation into the killings.

The governor, who assured the panel that the state government would provide them with useful information, however, noted that innocent citizens should not be made to suffer any further.

“We will also come up with our position paper to submit to you people before you leave.

“That will guide you on the role that we have played as a state because if we do not come with this position paper, you will not know the role that the state has played,” the governor said.

Earlier, on Friday, Chairman of the board of inquiry, AVM David Ajayi, said the panel was in the state to investigate the unfortunate incident that happened at Okuama.

“We are here on a fact-finding mission and not to apportion blame. We are here to gather facts from security agencies, community leaders, and community dwellers.

“This report will also help to ensure healthy communication that will enhance civil-military relations and ensure that economic activities thrive again in the affected communities,” he said.

Ajayi, however, called on the governor to assist the board in its assignment to ensure that relevant stakeholders were invited to give accounts of what led to the crisis.

The board is expected to be in Bayelsa on Friday in continuation of its assignment.