Army shouldn’t probe soldiers’ killing in Delta — Ex-DSS boss

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A former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, has said the Nigerian Army is an interested party in the killing of 17 military personnel in Okuama community in the Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State and should not be involved in investigating the incident.

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He also said the Federal and State Governments should close ranks and set up independent probe panels with representatives from both ends to investigate what led to the incident.

Ejiofor stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday.

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“The military is an interested party; they cannot undertake such an investigation. By now, the Federal Government or the state government must have set up an investigative panel to look into this matter because time is running out. We need to get to the root of this matter to know what really happened,” he said.

He, however, faulted the decision of the military leadership to deploy a lieutenant colonel, two majors, one captain, and 13 other military personnel to settle a land dispute.

He said, “The federal or state government should set up this or harmonise: the state government brings representatives, the Federal Government brings representatives to form a very high-powered independent investigation team that will come up with an objective report of what happened because as it is now, people are scampering, some people that might be indicted in this investigation.

“A lieutenant colonel, two majors cannot on their own just move out on a peace-keeping mission in a community. There is so much to this incident that must be found out.”

The former DSS boss, however, advised the military to involve the police and DSS operatives in civilian assignments going forward.

He said, “If there is a peacekeeping, two parties must be involved; people from the two communities must be involved, and a neutral ground will be taken, possibly the local government headquarters, if you are talking of peace initiative.

“And then, why must the military? In fact, the military exposes itself in harm’s way. If the police, the DSS, and the military were involved in this (operation), I don’t think we would have seen this kind of incident. We are not justifying the killing, but it’s a lesson for all of us, for the military.

“You don’t blame the military too much because they have been so much involved in military matters that the military will now go for peace initiatives without civil authorities. I still don’t get it.”

The army authorities said 17 military personnel were killed by irate youths during a communal clash over a land dispute in Bomadi and Okuoma communities in Delta State last Thursday.

The personnel attached to the 181 Amphibious Battalion were responding to a distress call when they were ambushed and killed on Thursday.

The Defence Headquarters on Monday released the names and pictures of its personnel killed during the communal clash.

The personnel consists of four officers and 13 soldiers.

The officers are Commanding Officer 181 Amphibious Battalion, Lt. Col. A.H Ali; Maj S.D Shafa (N/13976); Maj D.E Obi (N/14395) and Capt U Zakari (N/16348).

The soldiers are SSgt Yahaya Saidu (#3NA/36/2974); Cpl Yahaya Danbaba (1ONA/65/7274); Cpl Kabiru Bashir (11NA/66/9853); LCpl Bulus Haruna (16NA/TS/5844); LCpl Sola Opeyemi (17NA/760719); LCpl Bello Anas (17NA/76/290); LCpl Hamman Peter (NA/T82653); LCpl Ibrahim Abdullahi (18NA/77/1191); Pte Alhaji Isah (17NA/76/6079); Pte Clement Francis (19NA/78/0911); Pte Abubakar Ali (19NA/78/2162); Pte Ibrahim Adamu (19NA/78/6079) and Pte Adamu Ibrahim (21NA/80/4795).

 

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