DHQ declares 8 wanted over Okuama killings, as 17 slain soldiers buried

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Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Thursday, published names and photographs of eight persons suspected of having a hand in the killing of 17 soldiers said to have been deployed to a peace mission in Okuama community in Delta State.

The slain soldiers included one Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors, one Captain, and 13 soldiers.

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The wanted persons include a professor, a woman over the deadly attack on the soldiers in the Urhobo community in Delta, last March 14.

In a post on its official X account, Thursday, the Army said the ambush on its soldiers on March 14, 2024 led to the death of Officers and Soldiers of the 181 Amphibious Battalion, Asaba, the Delta State capital.

The persons declared wanted are; Akevwru Daniel Omotegbono, Professor Ekpekpo Arthur, Andaowei Dennis Bakriki, Igoli Ebi (female), Akata Malawa David, Sinclear Oliki, Clement Ikolo Oghenerukevwe and Reuben Baru.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, Thursday, laid to rest the remains of the 17 personnel who were killed in Delta State on March 14 with military honours at the National Military Cemetery Abuja on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

The personnel, made up of one Lieutenant Colonel, two majors, one Captain, and 13 soldiers, were laid to rest in a very solemn ceremony.

The personnel it would be recalled were ambushed and murdered by youths on Thursday, March 14, while on a peace mission, after a reported case of communal clash between Okuama and Okoloba Communities in Ughelli South and Bomadi local government areas of Delta State.

They include Commanding officer, 181 Amphibious Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel AH  Ali, Major SD Shafa, Major DE Obi, Captain, U. Zakari, Staff Sergeant. Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Yahaya Danbaba, Corporal Kabiru Bashir, Lance Corporal Bulus Haruna, Lance Corporal Sole Opeyemi, Lance Corporal Bello Anas, Lance Corporal Hamman Peter, Lance Corporal Ibrahim Abdullahi, Private Alhaji Isah, Private Clement Francis, Private Abubakar Ali, Private Ibrahim Adamu, and Private Adamu Ibrahim.

In his address, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, said it has become the toughest job for him to send men in harm’s way, despite providing the best equipment, knowing that some of them would not make it back alive.

He described the act of killing the personnel as the most barbaric act any citizen or community can commit against the authority of the state as the military has Excercised a lot of restraints so far in its search and recovery efforts for missing arms, ammunition, other equipment, and body parts.

The COAS said the Okuama killing had added to the care of the Nigerian Army and, by extension, the Nigeria state 10 windows amongs which are three women with four, five, and eight months pregnancy, 21 orphans, and many other dependents including parents.

“Ours is a profession that deals with matters of life and death. When soldiers die in the hands of the enemies of the State, we take it as dying for what the nation has considered a just cause; we celebrate them as gallant heroes. But when they are gruesomely murdered by the very people they are trained, equipped, and took an oath to protect, it is highly demoralizing.

“It grieves my heart that it took our search and recovery effort over 72 hours to recover some vital organs of the decapitated and disemboweled bodies of my men that were scattered all over the Okuama community by the community youths and their friends.”

Also speaking, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, said the fallen heroes exemplified the highest bravery and service to the dear nation and their sacrifices would not go in vain.

He stressed that the military would bring the perpetrators to justice and whoever is supporting them directly or indirectly would face the music.

“We owe it to the fallen heroes to build a nation where everybody can strive to become what he/she wants to become.”

President Bola Tinubu, was joined in paying the last respect by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.

Others include; the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas led members of the both upper and lower chambers to honour the slain military personnel.

State Governors Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa), Usman Ododo (Kogi), Uba Sani (Kaduna), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), and Abba Yusuf (Kano) were also present alongside other members of their state executives amongs many other citizens.

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