Okuama: Hate and Violence Must Not Prevail- Omo-Agege

Recent developments in and around Okuama Community in Ewu Clan of Ughelli South, Delta State which touch gravely on our national security and the collective peace of our people are very concerning and demand the best of our leadership to manage for the good of all.

2.0. The confirmed gruesome killing of 17 personnel of the Nigerian Army, including a Lieutenant Colonel, 2 Majors and a Captain, who were reportedly on a ‘peace mission’ is utterly shocking. That act is a grave crime against the State, and I unequivocally condemn this appalling attack against our men in uniform in the strongest terms possible. Such extreme bloody violence has no place of comfort in our society, and it is clearly inconsistent with the traditional warm hospitality of all our people, including Urhobos and Ijaws.

3.0. On behalf of all our peace-loving people, I send my most sincere condolence to all officers and men of our Armed Forces and the grieving families of our fallen heroes. Their loss is our nation’s collective loss, and we sincerely identify with them in our solemn thoughts and prayers. We trust God to comfort them and grant the souls of our fallen heroes rest.

4.0. I am also deeply concerned about the reported killing of innocent civilians and the destruction of homes and other properties, and the humanitarian crisis that is emerging. A mass of innocent civilians, including women and children, should not pay for any crime they didn’t commit under any circumstances. Collective punishment is never justified.

5.0. While our prayers are with all of the families who have been hurt by this violence, I urge our military personnel to show restraint in its operations to restore order to the Okuama community by not wiping out innocent civilians on account of a few misguided criminals.

6.0. This is not a time for blame games and precipitous conclusions. It is a moment for solemn reflections. For the good of all, those who brutally cut short the lives of the officers and men of our Armed Forces must be found and punished according to law. We have a duty to dig deep to know the exact facts and ultimately the truth of what led to this national tragedy. This requires an impartial and thorough investigation of all the issues that brought our people to this terribly concerning point where invitation of military intervention became the preferred and necessary option to secure civil peace and security between communities that have co-habited harmoniously for centuries.

7.0. I, therefore, call on the Federal Government to set up an independent investigation panel, with representatives of the National Human Rights Commission and representatives of human rights-leaning Non-Governmental Organizations and notable professional bodies to unearth the remote causes of this crisis and those behind the killing of our gallant officers and soldiers. We must get to the very bottom of this matter.

8.0. Meanwhile, I count on our political, religious and community leaders, amongst others, to engage our people who are directly and indirectly impacted by this grave matter to embrace peace for our collective peace, even as we ask and task the Army to embrace maximum restraint in its response. The law and fundamental tenets of morality and good conscience are against the collective punishment of a people for the sins of a few.

9.0. We count on our governments at the Federal, State and Local levels to step up efforts to ameliorate the sufferings of ordinary, innocent communal people who are affected by this matter. Working with our trusted elected representatives, especially in the National Assembly, we will do all that we can to bring succour to our elderly, women, children, and all who have been internally displaced by this tragic challenge and its traumatic aftereffects on their lives. We call on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to quickly step in to help everyone who is suffering by the reason of this issue. In this regard, we thank every Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) that has activated quick response teams to monitor and offer much-needed support and encourage them to continue to help.

10.0. We need peace and security to build a better society for ourselves and future generations. May the good Lord help all our people and nation to overcome every design to tear us down and apart.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, CFR
Obarisi of Urhoboland &
Deputy President of the 9th Senate

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