May 18, 2024

How Nigerian Army Personnel Turned Peace Meeting In Delta Community To Shooting Spree – Residents

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…Says army personnel killed over 50 persons including children

By EDITOR

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Residents of Okuama Community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, have disclosed what caused the shooting when some Nigerian Army officers visited their community for a peace discussion.

According to residents, the slain military personnel arrived in two gunboats on Thursday, March 14, 2024 purportedly for peace talks with the community chairman and leaders, and the community greeted them warmly and offered them kola nuts, resulting in a peaceful dialogue.

The residents added that the tension in the community escalated after the military personnel insisted on taking away the community chairman and some leaders for further questioning after the peace talks, which the people resisted.

The refusal, it was reported, enraged the military men, who opened fire on the town hall, where they were holding a meeting with the residents, resulting in casualties in the village, Vanguard reports.

The residents accused the soldiers of unexpectedly opening fire on residents and reportedly killing about 50 persons, adding that this led many of the residents to flee the community and hide inside the forests. 

The fleeing residents did not explain the community’s role in the brutal execution of the 16 military officers later that day, but they did say that on March 15, the military returned for a second attack, setting fire to houses in the community, causing them to escape.

One resident, who pleaded anonymity, 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 is customary with such visit.

“They asked for the community chairman and 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 had 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.

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

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

A community leader, who corroborated this, recounted: “That very day (March 14), we didn’t expect what happened as we saw two gunboats come with the army. We were surprised, but the army maintained that they came for peace talks, so we welcomed and entertained them.

“When they wanted to go, they said they wanted to take our chairman and the leaders along, but the community refused, so the army changed all of a sudden, and they did not act as people we just entertained

“They opened fire, and in that process of firing, our youth, old women, and children died on the spot. More than 20 died instantly.

“They left but came back and opened fire again, raising the casualties to 50, and they returned on March 15, and burnt every house in Okuama community.”

Another fleeing mother said: “Some of us have yet to see our children since March 14. We have been hiding in the bush, some dead bodies are there. Therefore, we want the government to come and rescue us.”

On the killing of soldiers, she denied that the community initiated the attack on the army, saying “The army came to meet us and we entertained them.

“It was after the peace talks they said they want to take our leaders away. We did not attack the army in the river; it was their insistence to take away the community chairman, secretary, and other leaders that led to the shooting.

“They killed the youth, women, and children in the town hall but there was confusion everywhere, therefore, people ran helter-skelter.

“We are calling for a full-scale investigation into this incident for government to find out those who killed our people and the soldiers also.”

…Source: saharareporters

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