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Okuama Massacre: Reps C’ttee Probe Military Action, Killing Of Soldiers

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Members of the House of Representatives committee on Defence probing Okuama massacre





The House of Representatives Committee on Defence has commenced an investigative hearing into the brutal killing of 17 military personnel and the subsequent destruction of Okuama community in Delta State.

BIGPEN NIGERIA (https://bigpenngr.com) reports that despite a low physical turnout, interested parties, including indigenes and advocacy groups, submitted memoranda to the committee.

The investigative hearing was held at the Government House Annex, Edjeba, in Warri South Local Government Area of the state.

Addressing newsmen, the committee, led by Rep. Babajimi Benson, assured a fair and thorough investigation, saying that they are still receiving petitions and presentations from the public, including residents of Okuama, until next Friday.

The goal of the committee, according to him, is to uncover the truth behind the incident and ensure justice for all parties involved.

Recalls that the House of Representatives had at its sitting on March 19, 2024, following a resolution, mandated the Committee on Defence to investigate the remote causes of the Okuama incident.

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Hon. Benson, flanked by members of the committee including the member representing Ughelli North, Ughelli South and Udu Federal Constituency, Hon. Francis Waive, disclosed that the committee had received several memoranda from the people of the area on the incident.

According to him, “We’ve received a lot of memorandum from them but they have not turned up physically. We intend to work with that memorandum, it’s extensive and the window is open for a week, so we are still expecting a lot more memorandum.

“We’ve assured you all, we have assured the Governor that we have the House of Representatives full backing to ensure that this matter, we review both sides and will come to a logical conclusion and we put a closure to it.

“That’s why we are asking them to send in a memorandum and they’ve complied with that. We’ve also given a week. The memorandum receipt will end Friday next week.

“We are also telling them if you don’t want to show up, please send us documents that we would be able to act on so we can come to a logical conclusion. Ours is to look at both sides and be able to reduce an upper recommendation so that no party is embarrassed or victimized.

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“They are going to submit it to the clerk and from there we will treat it. If there is any reason for us to visit or do otherwise, we are ready. We’ve dedicated our time to ensuring that justice is done and justice is also seen to be done.

“And to also ensure that this matter is brought to a logical conclusion whereby the people can easily go back to their source of livelihood and to their various homes and also foster a building process so that that place would be better now than they left it.”

While speaking on why the committee had not visited Okuama to personally see things for themselves, Hon. Benson noted, “We need to first be fully armed with what is going on. That is why we are soliciting for memoranda. We’ve gotten a couple. The activity of the committee has not ended.

“We are still going to visit the locals in quote, we are still going to invite the military to give us an account of what happened, that is why we said we are going to listen to both sides of the divide. We definitely have to visit the locals but we need to be armed with information from the people where the carnage took place. It is after that we will visit the locals.”

Amongst those who submitted memoranda to the committee are groups including the influential Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS), Urhobo Media and Advocacy Group (UMPAG) and Chief Victor Otomewo Esq.

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On March 14, 17 military personnel including the Commanding Officer of the 181 Amphibious Battalion, two majors and one captain were gruesomely murdered around the river bank of Okuama community in Ughelli South Local Government Area in Delta State.

Following this, the military, apparently in a reprisal attack, razed and destroyed every property in the community including church buildings, and with yet to be counted civilians allegedly killed by the soldiers over the killing of their colleagues.

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