The avoidable tragedy in Okuama

March 19, 2024

1.9 min readCategories: Opinion

Sixteen Soldiers on national assignment to rescue some kidnapped victims were brutally murdered by some unknown people in the Okuama community in Ughelli Local Government Area of Delta State. It was really an unprovoked invitation to trouble; and the baited trouble came so ferociously to a hitherto peaceful community.

History is meant to teach us about our past; what to avoid and those actions we should repeat. Killing of innocent soldiers should be part of our history that should be avoided at all costs by our people going by the attendant consequences of such misguided action in the past.

In 1983, some Chadian soldiers invaded some communities in Nigeria. The then GOC of the 3rd Division in Jos under whose command the Northeast fell was Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari. While the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces was President Shehu Shagari who was still engaging in diplomatic niceties with Chadian authorities, but Major General Buhari wouldn’t tolerate such vacillation and therefore defied his C-I-C, and chased the Chadian soldiers into their territory and gave them what he later described as ” bloody noses”.

Late Chief MKO Abiola was very close to the Military. He was IBB’s close friend, at least, as at 1992 when the ” mad dog” incident happened. One of Chief MKO Abiola’s son had some misunderstanding with some Air force officers in Ikeja. The officers went to the chief Abiola’s expansive Ikeja’s home to harass the family and when Abiola called the then Chief of Air staff, to report the harrowing incident unleashed on his household, the Senior officer only apologised and described the young officers as ” mad dogs”!

In November 1999, some Soldiers were killed in Odi, Bayelsa state and the reprisal attack on the community by the revenging soldiers is being described today as ” Odi massacre “.

Again, similar issue repeated itself in Zaki-Biam, Benue state, in October 2005 with same bloody consequences. Why then should history be allowed to repeat itself in Okuama in 2024?

Well, while we should rein on our Military to be more tolerant with their civilian engagement, I cannot but commiserate with the gallant officers of the Nigerian Army who lost their lives in the service of our country.

May Almighty God comfort their bereaved family and colleagues. And, May God heal our land.

Biyi Orilabaway,
Public Affairs Analyst, Lagos.

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About the Author: Olumide Akinrinlola

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