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Traditional Rulers, Communities Complicit In Murder Of 17 Soldiers In Okuama, Says Nigeria’s Defence Chief Musa

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Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Christopher Musa, has said that some of the traditional rulers and communities in Delta State, are complicit in the ambush and murder of 17 soldiers who were on a peace mission to Okuama in Delta State.

The CDS said this in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, where he said that they may not have been directly involved in the killings, but that the members of the community and the traditional rulers cannot deny that they knew what was happening.

Musa, in response to what several Urhobo leaders have said concerning this tragedy, said, “They cannot say they do not know what was going on there. I’m sure you are aware that since they decapitated the bodies of those guys, there’s a lot of human sacrifice that is ongoing within those general areas and it was just a way of saying that they have strength and that’s why they disembowelled them. I don’t know what the intent was. But whatever the intent is, we remain focused, we remain committed.

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“Our operation was highly regulated. Ideally, before now, it would have been a situation where we would have gone and flattened all the communities within that area, but it was measured because we felt not everybody was involved, but we know that a lot of people knew what was going on and kept quiet.”

The CDS then appreciated the Ovie of Ewu Kingdom, Clement Ikolo Ogenerukeywe, who was declared wanted over the military killings, for turning himself in. He said, “The Chief is secure, he is safe, nothing is going to happen to him, it’s just a few questionings and then we will be able to clarify.

“But you know, I don’t want to comment so much, but nobody will tell you he doesn’t know what’s happening. Maybe he did not take part directly, but he will not tell us he does not have the knowledge or the understanding of what’s going on. But like we said, the investigations will unravel most of these things, and then actions will be taken.”

General Musa then spoke on the reason for the closure of the communities for investigations to be carried out as he said, “Those communities know these criminals. Some of them benefit from these criminals, these acts of criminality, and so, if they say they don’t know them or they are not aware, they are far from the truth. But like I said, investigations will unravel most of these aspects, and we remain very professional, that I can assure you. 

“We will not do anything to infringe on the human rights of anybody. The cordon and search operation is just temporal, it will soon be over, and once it is over we are going to clarify, and everybody will be able to continue his work.”

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Speaking to Nigerians, the Defence Chief said, “We are a professional army. We are Nigerian army, we are Nigerian armed forces, we are here to protect Nigerians and we will continue to protect Nigerians. Sometimes, some things will happen, and people don’t have an understanding and then, it’s open to speculations. 

“We don’t follow speculations, we follow orders and we follow directives. But I can assure you that we will always want to do the right thing. Maybe mistakes might be made, yes, because we are humans, but as much as possible, we will try to curtail that. I am sure you also know that we have standing Court Martials for all our operations. We don’t condone acts of indiscipline. 

“If you commit an offence, you go, you face the Court Martials, and you are punished accordingly…  so we don’t hide our own, we bring them out, because we want Nigerians to trust the armed forces and to know that we are there for them day in, day out.

“What we want Nigerians to understand is that we are all Nigerians, we love Nigeria, we put our lives in line for Nigeria, and so, we will not do anything against any innocent Nigerian, we are only after the bad guys. Anybody who makes himself one, we will definitely come after him,” he further said.

In reference to a certain “General” Endurance Amagbein who is the main suspect of the killings that occurred in Okuama, the CDS said, “He is actually the mastermind. He is the one who actually planned and executed this with his boys. And you know they have a lot of issues of cultism within the general area. And again, like I always say, because they were making money illegally, they feel that they are above board, they have so much money that they can do whatever and they buy whoever it is that they can. 

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“But that’s one mistake they made. I think they’ve tried the wrong guys. And this time around, the full weight of the law is coming after him and his own team.”

He then appealed to Nigerians to not provide any support or logistics to the suspects saying, “During the investigation if you find out that you are also part of it, the law will take its course on you.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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