Six policemen on rescue mission killed in Delta, six missing

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The Force Headquarters of the Nigeria Police on Saturday released the identities of 12 policemen, six of whom they said were gruesomely murdered and the six others still missing during a rescue operation in Delta State.

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They also confirmed the arrest of five suspects.

The slain officers, according to a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa AdejobI, the policemen fell victim to an ambush by armed assailants while undertaking a mission to investigate the disappearance and rescue of three of their colleagues in Ohoro Forest, Delta State.

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The deceased officers, according to the statement, include Inspector Abe Olubunmi (IRT), Inspector Friday Irorere, Sergeant Kuden Elisha, Sergeant Akpan Aniette, Sergeant Ayere Paul, and Sergeant Ejemito Friday.

Those said to be missing are Inspector Onoja Daniel, Inspector Onogho Felix, Inspector Emmanuel Okoroafor, Inspector Joel Hamidu, Sergeant Moses Eduvie, and Sergeant Cyril Okorie (SWAT).

“The Nigeria Police Force is profoundly saddened by the devastating loss of the courageous officers in Delta State, who exhibited exceptional valour in the face of adversity. Our hearts extend to the families, friends, and colleagues of the fallen officers during this period of profound sorrow.

“We stand in solidarity with them, offering our deepest condolences and earnestly praying for the peaceful repose of the departed souls,” the statement read in part.

It added that the Force was committed to honouring the memory of their “fallen heroes by recognizing their bravery, dedication, and sacrifice”.

It said the Force was also focused on the search for the other six policemen while all their families had been duly contacted.

“In accordance with this commitment, the Force will posthumously honour the slain officers for their noble service and ultimate sacrifice at the Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony scheduled for April 5, 2024, in Abuja.

The statement added, “In response to this grievous loss, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, has taken decisive actions as expected. The bodies of six of the slain officers have been recovered after a fierce search conducted by a combined team of police officers and other security outfits.

“Additionally, the Inspector General of Police has mandated the expedited processing and payment of all entitlements due to the families of the fallen officers, aiming to alleviate any financial burdens they may encounter in this challenging time.

“Similarly, immediate measures have been initiated to ensure that justice is served swiftly and the perpetrators of this abhorrent crime are brought to justice. The Inspector General of Police has mandated the deployment of all necessary resources and personnel to apprehend those responsible for this senseless killing of our officers, and this has led to the arrest of five suspects in connection with the preceding incident and the killing, who are currently volunteering information necessary for the rounding up of all the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Defence Headquarters on Saturday said its troops were deploying efforts to track down the culprits responsible for the killings of 18 soldiers in the Okuama community in the Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State.

In a statement signed by the Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, and made available to journalists in Warri on Saturday, it said that to “curb the freedom of action of terrorists and the perpetrators of insecurity across the country,” it had released a banner of wanted terrorists and their cohorts.

“The banners would be deployed in strategic areas across the country. The deployment of the banner is for ease of recognition and arrest of the wanted persons,” it added.

Also, a socio-cultural group, O’odua Integrity Network, on Saturday criticised a former military officer, Maj Gen Tajudeen Olanrewaju (retd.) over his comment on the killings of the soldiers in Okuama, describing it as “unsolicited misrepresentation of private security oil pipelines surveillance”.

This was contained in a statement signed by Chief Adewale Adeosun and Ige Kilanko, as the President and Secretary of the group, respectively.

It said, “The press statement of General Olanrewaju had diluted intentions than meets the eyes. The local oil thieves and their international backers whose criminal activities were dealt crippling blows by the private security companies, have latched on to the Okuama killings to raise their ugly heads once again.

“In a hurry to discharge the job he was hired to deliver, the retired general said constitutionally recognised military institutions should be positioned and equipped to do the job through specially-trained and strategically built forces like it’s done in India and Venezuela.

“He poured venoms on the operators of private surveillance security providers hired by the Federal Government to safeguard the nation’s oil and gas equipment, labelling them as militants, thugs, and hoodlums, who are not different from bandits.”

Meanwhile, a socio-political group in the Niger Delta region, Coalition of Niger Delta Activists, has called for the prosecution of military personnel involved in the razing of Okuama community and the extra-judicial murder of innocent civilians, including women and children.

The group, led by Rex Anighoro, described the actions of the Nigerian Army in Okuama and other areas within the Niger Delta region following the killings of 17 soldiers as “egregious and crimes against humanity”.

It noted that the development “constitutes grave violations of human rights and must be met with swift and decisive legal action”.

“The development is already sparking outrage that demands accountability from activists, residents of the Niger Delta, and individuals of goodwill. Such acts, labelled as war crimes, are condemned unequivocally by CONDA as gross violations of human rights and dignity,” it added.

 

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