One week after the gruesome killing of a Nigerian Army Lt. Colonel, two Majors, one Captain and 12 other soldiers reportedly on a peace mission in the area of the Okuama and Okoloba communities in Delta State, nerves are frayed and the atmosphere is tense and testy as investigations progress.

The soldiers were reportedly murdered in an ambush by purported community youths.

There is outrage in the air as there are condolences. There are calls for justice as there are assurances that the criminals will be brought to book.

There are likewise appeals for patience, caution, due and lawful process in seeking out and bringing the culprits to justice so that innocents do not get caught in the crossfire and suffer injury or loss of life.

It is said that the military personnel had responded to a distress call following a communal clash between the Okuama and Okoloba communities in Delta State.

Confirming the incident in a statement last Saturday, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, Acting Director of Defence Information, said the victims were surrounded by some community youths when troops of the 181 Amphibious Battalion were on a peace mission in the Bomadi Local Government Area of the state.

Gusau further said the reinforcement team led by the commanding officer was also attacked, leading to the death of the commanding officer, two majors, one captain, and 12 soldiers.

President Bola Tinubu, Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, and many other leaders have roundly condemned the act and are emphatic that the culprits must be bought to book.

Amidst ongoing efforts to maintain peace and security in the troubled Niger Delta communities of Okuama, the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Olufemi Abaniwonda, has addressed the seeming absence of the Police Force in the community.

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Abaniwonda said on Wednesday that while the police had been unable to get into Okuama because “it’s an ongoing military operation”, they were working hand in hand with other security agencies to make sure that those who murdered 16 soldiers were caught.

There have been unconfirmed claims by parties affiliated with the community that the said misunderstanding in the locality had more to do with illicit crude oil and bunkering pursuits than with disputes over land.

Whatever the case, gallant soldiers of the Nigerian Army, who had pledged their lives in the defence of our country, have been murdered and the culprits must be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.

We once more commiserate wholeheartedly with the Nigerian Army on the mindless murder of its worthy officers and men in the line of duty and appeal to them to maintain calm and due process in the pursuit of the matter going forward.

Furthermore, the seeming ceaseless spate of unsavoury claims and counter claims, clan and other disputes, skirmishes and firefights and established ongoing resource theft and impunity in the Niger Delta indicate it is time for the Federal Government to turn its radar on the area in a more-than-cursory manner.

Also, the culture of lawlessness and impunity that appears to be evolving among the Niger Delta youth needs to be addressed.

It is believed that some of this conduct has to do with the pervasive use and addiction to psychotropic drugs. It is otherwise difficult to conceive that sober and right-thinking individuals would contemplate such a heinous crime.

There also appear to be lapses in the role and duty of parents and community leaders in nurturing and mentoring the youth on the values of patriotism, peace and civil conduct.

It has also been said time and again that some of the sources of the restiveness among the youth in the Niger Delta, as in other areas, have to do with inadequate education and a shortfall in artisanal skills acquisition which could help them attain self-sufficiency and social stability.