Delta Community Claims Army Killed 50 Civilians in Retaliation for Soldier Deaths

What You Need to Know:

Following the discovery of mutilated bodies near a river close to Okuama community in Nigeria’s Delta State, community members have alleged that soldiers opened fire on locals at the town hall killing at least 50 residents. 

On March 14th, sixteen members of Nigeria’s 181st Amphibious Battalion were killed in an ambush while conducting a peace mission between the Okuama and Okaloba communities. The bodies of the Battalions Commanding Officer, two Majors and some of the soldiers were found in a river close to Okuama community bearing signs of mutilation, with some of the bodies without heads, and their hearts and intestines ripped out. 

On Sunday morning, the village was set ablaze by unidentified individuals, causing many residents to flee into the neighboring village of Ughelli. 

The Details:

Local papers have now reported that residents claimed the soldiers belonging to the 181st Battalion arrived at the community on March 14th in two gunboats. A traditional peace ceremony then ensued but turned sour when the soldiers allegedly attempted to take the community’s Chairman away for questioning. The anonymous resident, speaking to Vanguard News, claimed when the community refused to let the Chairman be taken away, the soldiers opened fire, killing at least 50 and prompting much of the community to flee into the bush. 

The resident however, did not touch on the community’s role in the deaths of the sixteen soldiers, which is thought to have occurred sometime after they opened fire on the community. 

“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 visits. 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,” said the resident, speaking to Vanguard journalists. 

The Nigerian Army has denied these claims, calling it ‘propaganda’, with Major General Onyema Nwachukwu making a statement on X: 

“Resort to propaganda by the Okuama community in the face of gruesome murder of troops on a peace mission is callous and totally condemnable. 

The unfortunate killing of troops of 181 Amphibious Battalion of the Nigerian Army (NA), while on a peaceful and mediatory mission, after a reported case of communal clash between Okuama and Okoloba Communities in Ughelli South and Bomadi LGAs of Delta State respectively is not only despicable but should be unreservedly condemned by all. 

These were troops committed to peace and security of lives and property of citizens and non-citizens alike in the Niger Delta Region, murdered in cold blood by an armed youth gang of Okuama Community, in the most  gruesome, heartless and cruel manner and went ahead to sacrilegiously debase their remains by ripping out their hearts by the very people they were there to protect.  

Regrettably, the community complicit in this dastardly act has resorted to media propaganda and shenanigans, rather than engage in a positive effort to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime. This again is a clear indication that the murder of the troops was a communally orchestrated attack against legitimate forces. 

The falsehood being peddled by these criminals and their cohorts to whip up sentiments and sway the public to cover up, endorse or support the outrageous criminal acts of their armed youth gang should be disregarded in its entirety, it is only a ridiculous attempt at justifying their crime, rather than turn in themselves to security agencies. There is no amount of propaganda that would arm-twist the narrative, they are complicit and must be ready to face the wrath of the law.” 

So, What Now?:

These latest allegations by residents of the Okuama community highlight the level of distrust between many communities in Nigeria and its security services. 

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Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.
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