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Unveiling the Truth: 17 Soldiers Killed in Okuama Community (ICIR Report)

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Okuama Community -recent investigation by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) has shed light on the underlying causes behind the tragic killing of 17 soldiers in the Okuama community in Ughelli South LGA of Delta State. The incident, which occurred in the context of an ongoing feud between illegal oil bunkers, has revealed a complex web of corruption and criminality.

The feud, it appears, was sparked by a dispute between Endurance Okodeh alias Amangbein, an illegal oil bunker, and a powerful cartel of illegal oil bunkers led by ex-militant leader Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo. Amangbein, an ally of a sitting governor in the Niger Delta, had been warned by Tompolo to stay away from the illegal oil business, which he saw as oppressive. This warning, however, escalated tensions between the two groups.

The military’s involvement in the conflict was prompted by the abduction of Anthony Aboh, an ally of the ex-Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boss Patrick Akpobolokemi, who had allegedly built a mansion on disputed land between Okuama and Okoloba communities. The military, suspecting Amangbein’s involvement, launched a raid on the Igbomotoru community in Bayelsa State, where he had fled.

The ICIR’s investigation also revealed the workings of the illegal oil cartel, which comprises influential individuals from various sectors, including top military operators, government officials, and retired oil industry players. This cartel, working with insiders, steals crude directly from major pipelines in the Niger Delta region, causing significant damage to the country’s economy.

The report also highlights the controversial award of a surveillance contract to Tompolo by the federal government in 2022, which was intended to curb pipeline vandalism and oil theft. However, critics argue that this contract has only served to further empower Tompolo and his associates in the illegal oil business.

The tragic incident in Okuama community has raised questions about the military’s role in the conflict, with conflicting reports from military officials about the nature of the soldiers’ mission. While some claim they were on a peace mission, others suggest they were involved in illegal oil bunkering.

In response to these developments, there have been calls for President Bola Tinubu to set up an independent panel of inquiry to investigate the root causes of the conflict and the military’s involvement. Critics argue that the military has overstepped its constitutional mandate by handling a case of alleged murder, which falls under the jurisdiction of the police.

Overall, the ICIR’s report paints a grim picture of corruption and criminality in the Niger Delta region, highlighting the need for urgent action to address these issues and bring the perpetrators to justice.

[Source: ICiR report by Isaac MARKSON]

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