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Falana Demands End to Reprisal Attack in Delta Community

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Sunday, urged the Federal Government to put an end to the reprisal attacks by soldiers of the Nigerian Army in the Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State.

Some irate youths of the community were said to have ambushed soldiers who were drafted to the community to stop a communal clash in the area.

Fifteen bodies of the soldiers were recovered by soldiers of the Joint Task Force under the supervision of the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Jamal Abdussalam, at the Okuama community.

Some youths from Okoloba were said to have ambushed and killed three Okuama youths – Igho Meshack, Godspower Awusa and Okiemute Agbabuleke, over an age-long land dispute in the area as they were returning from Okwagbe.

In a reprisal attack, some Okuama youths on Wednesday reportedly ambushed one Mr. Anthony Aboh, an indigene of Okoloba, and held him hostage.

To release the hostage, operatives of the JTF swiftly swung into action and moved to Okuama.

Falana, in a statement made available to our correspondent on Sunday, urged the military to halt the killings of residents while calling for a full probe of the incident.

The senior advocate had, in a statement earlier released on Saturday night, condemned the brutal killing of the soldiers. He had also called for the immediate prosecution of the suspects who were arrested for their involvement in the crime.

But on Sunday, Falana said, “Unfortunately, some villages were attacked last night by angry soldiers. After the attack, the villages were set on fire during the nocturnal military invasion.

“Having regard to the destruction of Odi and Zaki Biam over the killing of soldiers, the authorities ought to have taken adequate measures to prevent the attack and burning of the affected villages. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has not issued any statement on the barbaric incident.

“In view of the tragic turn of events, I call on the military authorities to halt the destruction of the properties of innocent people in the warring communities. It ought to be pointed out that collective punishment is a serious offence under domestic and international law.”

Falana continued, “Therefore, the Delta State Government should ensure that the murder suspects and arsonists among the civilians and soldiers are fished out and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to other criminal elements in the society.

“Once again, I commiserate with the bereaved families of the slain officers and soldiers. Since they were brutally killed in the course of duty, the Federal Government and the Delta State Government should compensate the dependants of the deceased military officers and soldiers. Compensation should also be extended to the victims of reprisal attacks by angry soldiers.”

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