• Lt. Colonel, two Majors, Captain among victims
  • DHQ condemns killings, demands arrest of culprits

Okuoma, an Ijaw community in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, has turned into a ghost town in the aftermath of the killing of 22 soldiers dispatched to the area on a peace mission.

Residents, especially young men, are understood to have fled for fear of reprisal over the killing of the soldiers, five of whom were officers: a lieutenant-colonel who was the commanding officer, two majors and one captain.

The Defence Headquarters confirmed the killings yesterday, with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General C.G. Musa, ordering  the immediate arrest and investigation of all those involved.

Similarly seized by tension on account of the killing are neighbouring towns in Urhobo and Ijaw communities in Ughelli South and Bomadi local government areas of the state.


Residents of the neighbouring communities said military aircraft were hovering over them, ostensibly on reconnaissance missions.  This sparked fear that military invasions and operations in the area were imminent.

The soldiers were allegedly ambushed and murdered by youths on Thursday when the troops went to quell violence between the people of Okuoma and Okoloba.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the dastardly attack, militias were suspected of masterminding the attack on the troops of the 181 Amphibious Battalion of the Army.

Various sources said the soldiers went to Okuoma to secure the release of one Mr Anthony Aboh, an indigene of Okoloba, who was abducted over the lingering land dispute between the two communities.

The military men were reportedly caught in an ambush on their way back to their base after their meeting with leaders of Okuoma community ended in a deadlock.

A source said: “We were coming back to our boats after the unfruitful discussion to release the kidnapped victim of Okoloba community.

“Suddenly, there were rains of bullets coming from all directions and some of us managed to escape.

“Many people were killed during the ambush, including a former honourable member from Okoloba community, who reported the matter to the JTF.  But the commander and other officers were held hostage and taken to an unknown destination towards the creek opposite the community.”

Sources said the lifeless body of the kidnapped Anthony Aboh had been recovered floating on River Forcados.

One of the sources in Okoloba said: “We found the lifeless body of Mr Anthony Aboh floating on River Forcados near Ayakoromo community, and like other victims, he was blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back.”

Efforts to get comments from Okuoma community were unsuccessful.

DHQ confirms killings as CDS orders investigation

Confirming the development in a statement yesterday, the acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier Gen. Tukur Gusau, said the Delta State Government had been briefed about the situation.

He said: “The troops of 181 Amphibious Batallion, Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, while on a peace mission to Okuoma community in Bomadi LGA of Delta State were surrounded by some community youths and killed on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

“The unfortunate incident occurred when the troops responded to a distress call after the communal crisis between the Okuama and Okoloba communities, both in Delta State.

“The reinforcement team led by the commanding officer was also attacked, leading to the deaths of the commanding officer, two majors, one captain, and 12 soldiers.

“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Gwabin Musa, has directed the immediate investigation and arrest of those involved in the heinous crime.

“The occurrence has been reported to the Delta State Government.

“However, the military remains focused and committed to its mandate of maintaining peace and security in the country.

“So far, a few arrests have been made while steps are being taken to unravel the motive behind the attack.”

Army task force recovers 14 bodies

Channels TV reported last night that 14 bodies of  the victims had been recovered by a joint task force led by  the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamal Abdussalam.

The corpses were recovered from the rivers of Okuoma where they floated.

Some of them were allegedly mutilated.

Delta Senator Dafinone calls for calm, urges probe of incident

Reacting to the situation, the senator representing Delta Central, Ede Dafinone, asked those involved in the crisis to sheathe their swords.

He also advised the Federal and Delta State Governments to urgently intervene.

He described the situation as unfortunate and unnecessary.

He appealed to the army to “act discreetly in this situation, that they should not allow their emotions to take the better part of their professional judgment by toning down their operations and observe the rules of engagement while dealing with civilians at Okuoma.”

He told the residents of the affected areas to “shun any act of violence that could further escalate this crisis, which could have been avoided if both parties had allowed reason to prevail.

“The National Emergency Management Agency should also reach out and provide relief materials to the people of Okuama, many of whom have been rendered homeless.”

AANI condemns killing of officers, soldiers

The Alumni Association of the National Institute (AANI) of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, yesterday condemned the killing of four officers and 12 soldiers by some youths in Delta State.

 The military officers and soldiers of the 181 Amphibious Battalion, Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State, were killed by youths while on peace mission in Okuama and Okoloba communities both in Delta State.

National President of AANI, Amb. Emmanuel Obi Okafor, made the condemnation in a statement yesterday.

He described the killing of the military personnel as “an unforgivable affront to our nation’s values.”

 “The AANI stands in solidarity with our military and the families of these heroes who paid the supreme price in quest for peace in Delta State.

“Consequently, this despicable act of barbarism must not be swept under the rug. We demand swift and decisive action from both the Federal and Delta State governments.

“The perpetrators, including the community leaders, must face the full force of the law. No one who dares to spill the blood of our defenders and attacks Nigeria should escape justice.

“The perpetrators must face swift justice, with no leniency shown to those who dare to spill the blood of our beloved soldiers, for whatever reason.”

According to Amb. Okafor, the “cowardly attack” not only dampens our spirits but also threatens future peace efforts as it strikes at the heart of our nation’s resolve for peace.

 He urged government to take decisive measures to prevent such atrocities from reoccurring.

 “The culprits, especially the youths involved, must be swiftly brought to justice. The traditional rulers overseeing this tragedy must face consequences for their negligence,” he said.

 Amb. Okafor commended the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, “for his prompt response, directing an immediate investigation.

 “We therefore urge the authorities to expedite the process and ensure all involved face the full force of the law.”

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