Community practice against mass atrocities, Nigeria mourns regret killing of soldiers

Tinubu.
Tinubu
Community practice against mass atrocities, Nigeria mourns regret killing of soldiers

The Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities, and Nigeria Mourns are saddened by the brutal murder of Nigerian soldiers while performing their duties in Delta State.

The two organizations in a statement signed unequivocally condemn the tragic killing of 16 officers of the Troops of 181 Amphibious Batallion, Bomani, LGA of Delta State by unknown assailants in Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area and the Okolaba community of the Bomadi Local Government Area in Delta State, on Thursday, March 14, 2024.

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The statement.

The Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities, and Nigeria Mourns are saddened by the brutal murder of Nigerian soldiers while performing their duties in Delta State.

The officers were ambushed and killed while responding to a distress call after an intercommunal clash between Okuama and Okolaba Communities.

The facts that surround the circumstances in which our gallant officers, who had been deployed to the community to maintain peace and order, were killed are still unclear. The Nigerian Army has communicated its intention to investigate the event and ensure that the perpetrators of this dastardly act apprehended, and that justice is served.

For our gallant officers, the onerous duty of defending and protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity comes with the added responsibility of protecting the nation against both external and internal aggressors. This imperative has become more pronounced in the face of escalating onslaughts by terrorists and other organized criminal groups.

Over the past decade and a half, more than 3000 officers have paid the ultimate price for our continued freedom. Last year, at least 262 state security personnel were violently killed defending our country.

In the first quarter of this year alone, we have recorded the killings of at least 62 state security agents.

In spite of the high number of fatalities that they have occasioned, our security and well-being have remained the primary focus of our state security agents, who have continued to defend us with their own lives on the line. We are in turn concerned about the inordinately high number of fatalities among officers on active duty.

The unfortunate event last week in Delta is a further dampener on our collective psyche as a nation. We condole with the families and colleagues of our slain heroes and stand with them as fellow Nigerians.

This is our collective loss. Nigeria mourns!

This tragic event also brings to the fore the proliferation of intractable communal conflicts across the country and the failure of the government to foster lasting peace by ensuring justice and the provision of social goods. Communal clashes are a symptom of deeper fault lines, broken social cohesion, and a lack of faith in the justice system and institutions of the state.

The deployment of military personnel to quell conflicts can only be a stop-gap measure which cannot replace good governance and a vibrant judiciary; and when they continue for as long as a number of the deployments across our country have, they are stretched thin, exposed to mental health disorders, and, as in the current circumstances, are sometimes forced to pay the ultimate price.

We cannot afford as a country to continue to waste the lives of our stellar security officers, nor can we indefinitely continue to apply band aid measures to the various theaters of conflict spread across our country.

We also cannot ignore the palpable fear by innocent members of these communities that innocent residents will become scapegoats, from whom vengeance will be exacted for the loss of our officers.

Odi community and Zaki Biam massacres are recent examples of security personnel exacting vengeance for the loss of their colleagues.

We therefore urge caution on both sides. There need not be any further bloodshed. The matter should be investigated with the utmost respect for human rights, and justice should be exerted only by a competent court of law.

Consequently, we urge the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to:

● Set up an independent body to conduct a thorough investigation to uncover the perpetrators of this heinous crime and ensure that they are all brought to justice

● Declare a day of national mourning and ensure that our gallant officers are buried with full military honors and that their families are compensated in a timely manner

● Set up a panel to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the communal clash that led to the attack on the officers.

● Conduct a study on the proliferation of cult gangs in South-South Nigeria with a bid to neutralize them and end their menace.

● Conduct an audit on the welfare and protection of our security agents and ensure that they are treated as critical national assets.

We appeal to our fellow compatriots to find ways of honoring these gallant officers and demonstrating support for our security forces.

First, by observing a period of national mourning, demanding for their protection, and expressing gratitude for their continued service in civic spaces, including on online platforms.

God bless our security forces and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Signed on behalf of the Community of Practice Against Mass Atrocities:

Abiodun Baiyewu

Executive Director, Global Rights

Adamu Kotorkoshi

Executive Director, Center for Community Excellence

Ier Jonathan Ichaver

Co-Founder Sesor Empowerment Foundation

Iheoma Obibi

Executive Director, Alliances for Africa

Ken Henshaw

Executive Director, We the People

Redzie Jugo

Team Lead, Srarina Initiative for Peace Justice and Development

Rossi Paul

Head of Programmes, African Initiative for Peacebuilding, Advocacy and Advancement (AfriPeace)

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