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Okuama killings: Traditional ruler, safe, secure with us — CDS

…As Urhobo traditional rulers seek independent probe

 

The traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, HRM Clement Oghenerukevwe, who voluntarily turned himself in, is safe and secure with the military.

 

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, has made this known on Wednesday while appearing as a guest on Arise Television.

Recall that the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had, on March 28, declared wanted eight persons, including the traditional ruler of Ewu Kingdom, over their alleged roles in the recent killing of 17 military personnel at Okuama in Delta State.

Following the declaration, the traditional ruler surrendered himself to the police and maintained that he had no hands in the killings of the military personnel.

However, while speaking with journalists on Wednesday, the CDS stated that there is no cause for alarm regarding the safety of the traditional ruler in their care.

According to him, the traditional ruler is in safe and secure hands, adding that the military just needed some clarification from him.

He added that although the traditional ruler might not have directly taken part in the killings of the slain military personnel, he can’t deny having the knowledge or understanding of what was going on.

The Defence boss, however, urged Nigerians to know that the military is only after the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians and will not do anything against innocent Nigerians, stressing that they are only after the bad eggs.

When asked about the state of affairs of the traditional ruler, he said, “I think there is nothing really to fear about. I mean, he brought himself up. The Commissioner of Police handed him over to the joint task force. The joint task force has a police component, and because they are the ones serving the mandate to operate, that is why he handed him over.

“It is a joint investigation that is being conducted. We have sought a board of inquiries from outside to also follow up, and we are sure other questions will be asked. But what we want Nigerians to understand is that we are all Nigerians, we love Nigerians, we put our lives on the line for Nigeria, so we will not do anything against any innocent Nigerians. We are only after the bad guys. Anyone who makes himself one, we will definitely come after him.

“I understand that we have a mandate from the president. If the president gives me a mandate to conduct an operation, I will not ask him why. I will conduct that operation, and then an explanation will come later. That is why I am in the military.

“Like I said, the chief (king of Ewu) is secured; he is safe, nothing is going to happen to him. It is just a few questionings, and then we will be able to clarify. I don’t want to comment so much, but I can tell you nobody will tell you he doesn’t know what was happening. Maybe he did not take part directly, but he will not tell us he doesn’t have the knowledge or the understanding of what was going on. But like we have said, investigation will unravel most of these things, and actions will be taken.”

The CGS assured that the people of the community will soon have access to their community after concluding the current Cordone and search operation which shall soon be over.

He pointed out that the operation was necessary to prevent accidental killing of the community members in the line of operation.

The CGS also assured that relations of the fallen gallant men of the force will also be taken care of by the military and as the Commander-in-Chief did at the funeral, honours were bestowed, and scholarships awarded to those left behind.

Meanwhile, Monarchs, under the aegis of the Urhobo Council of Traditional Rulers (Ukoko r’ Ivie r’ Urhobo) of Delta, have called for the setting up of an independent investigative enquiry into the immediate and remote causes of the Okuama-military incident as well as the immediate return of exiled folks to their ancestral home.

The chairman of the council and king of Uvwie Kingdom, HRM Emmanuel Sideso and HRM Richard Oghenevwogaga Ebelle Okorefe 1, Ovie Agbarha-Otor Kingdom and Secretary, Ukokar Ivie r’ Urhobo, signed the resolution on behalf of other Urhobo monarchs.

The resolution was arrived at during the visit of the representatives of Ewu, Okparagbe, and Arhavwarien Kingdoms of Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state on a ‘Save our Soul’ visit to HRM Sideso.

During the visit, the representatives narrated the sufferings, attacks, arson, and deaths experienced by the people of Okuama community and other neighbouring communities.

He also added that the people of Okuama community were worried about the king of Ewu Kingdom, HRM Clement Ikolo, who was declared wanted and subsequently arrested by the Nigerian Army over the killing of the 17 soldiers in the community and that he was innocent of the crime.

Recall that HRM Clement Ikolo surrendered himself to the Commissioner of Police, Delta State, and was handed over to the Nigerian Army authorities on Thursday, March 28, 2024, who then whisked him to Abuja for interrogation.

In the resolution, the traditional rulers commiserated with the deceased soldiers while calling for a thorough investigation of the incident.

“The representatives under reference narrated sufferings, attacks, arson, deaths etc, by the people of Okuama Community and other neighbouring communities. They could no longer sleep with their eyes closed.

“They are worried that HRM Ovie of Ewu Kingdom was declared wanted by the Nigerian Army and subsequently surrendered himself to the Commissioner of Police Delta State and then handed over to the Nigerian Army Authority. They believed in the innocence of the King.

“After listening to pleas from the representatives, the Council resolved as follows:

“The Ukoko r’ Ivie Urhobo (Urhobo Council of Traditional Rulers) restated their call for the setting up of an independent investigative enquiry into the immediate and remote causes of the Okuama-military incident as this is the only way the truth can be revealed and avoid future incidence.

“That the good people of Ewu Kingdom should remain calm and law-abiding as the Council will ensure that no innocent person suffers unjustly.

“The Council once more commiserate with the families of the slain soldiers and the Nigerian Army authority.

“The Council is deeply touched by the pains suffered by innocent citizens of the Okuama and neighbouring communities and commiserates with the families of those who lost their loved ones.

“The Council also appeal to the Federal Government to allow the Okuama people to return to their ancestral home to reduce the sufferings of the innocent aged people and children,” the statement read in part.

 

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