Again Akpabio Under Fire For Linking Soldiers’ Killing To Mercenaries

Again Akpabio Under Fire For Linking Soldiers’ Killing To Mercenaries

Civil society organisations and a security expert have criticized Senate President Godswill Akpabio for linking Thursday’s killings of 16 military personnel in Delta State to foreign mercenaries.

The troops were killed while on a peace mission to the warring communities of Okuoma and Okoloba.

Akpabio spoke Tuesday during plenary when the Senate resolved to constitute a committee to unravel the circumstances behind the military personnel’s killings. 

“I don’t want to conclude that these people are from Niger Delta because we respect men and women in uniform. That’s why I’m saying that your additional prayer should be to carry out a thorough investigation to know whether they were mercenaries outside Nigeria, who came in to commit this crime because I don’t think these people are from Niger Delta.

“We’re not at war. Even in the field of war, to lose such a number of personnel, no community will go to the extent of doing that kind of thing; I don’t think they’re from Niger Delta. So, I think the first point should be that we should establish the culprits who committed this crime.”

He said the panel would be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that those involved in the killings were brought to justice.

Reacting to Akpabio’s claims, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International-Nigeria (TI-Nigeria) said: “A criminal is a criminals irrespective of where he or she comes from. So, to support or to give kind of soft landing to people who have carried out this barbaric and murder against serving security officials, is condemnable.”

Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Gad Peter, said political leaders should be careful about their comments “after incident or crimes have taken place.”

He said, “For Akpabio to say the people that killed those soldiers are foreigners means that he has information. So, he should provide the details of which nation invaded our country so that we can go to war with them for killing our soldiers.”

Tunde Salman, the Team Lead/ Convener Good Governance Team Nigeria, described Akpabio’s comment as very sad, unacceptable and condemnable.

He urged that the culprits should be identified and justice served.

But Emmanuel Onwubiko, National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), said: “He (Akpabio) is simply guessing. So, he may be right and he may be wrong. 

“Foreign elements could mean strange persons from outside of that community where the incident happened.”

A security expert, Haruna Garba, wondered why Akpabio would make such a comment without seeing the outcome of the investigation.

Soldiers’ killings assault on security, stability of N/Delta– Lawan

Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Ahmad Lawan, described the soldiers’ killings as an assault on security and stability of the Niger Delta region.

Lawan, in a statement, urged the security agencies to investigate the killings, bring the perpetrators to justice and restore peace and order in the area.

Reps Demand Probe

The House of Representatives yesterday mandated the Armed Forces to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the killings of the military personnel.

This followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. Babajimi Benson.

The House also asked that the killers be brought to book.

Delta Gov Promises succours For Slain Soldiers’ Families

Delta State Governor Sheriff Oborevwori Tuesday his  administration did not bargain for what happened in Okuoma community, regretting that the communities involved in the dispute had signed a peace accord before the killing of the soldiers.

He promised to provide succour to the families of the slain military personnel.

He spoke to State House reporters after meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa.

He said: “I was in Bomadi for security meeting, to get full details and briefing. So, some of those issues are security issues that you can’t say publicly, that’s the truth, and we’re managing the situation. So, the issue of whether a place has been burned down or people have been killed, it has happened, but what is the way forward?

“Anything that has happened in the community in the past will not happen again, we assure them, but the people who are culpable will be brought book.”

The Executive Council of Urhobo Traditional Rulers (Ukokor’Ivie r’Urhobo) and the Executive of Urhobo Progress Union worldwide urged the Delta State government to set up an “independent truth commission” to investigate the crisis between Okuama and Okoloba. 

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