CDS: Military Legally Deployed Its Men to Okuama Community to Effect Arrest

•Identifies Endurance Amagbein as mastermind of killing of soldiers

Emma Okonji

Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, yesterday, said the military men in Okuama community were legally deployed with a mandate from the Commander-in-chief of Armed Forces, President Bola Tinubu, to arrest the killers of their colleagues.

Musa was reacting to public outcry that the military had invaded Okuama community in Delta State, and had denied them the right to return home, while in search of the killers of the 17 soldiers brutally murdered last month during a peace keeping mission.

But Musa, who spoke on the Morning Show of ARISE NEWS Channels, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, said, “What we have on the ground in Okuama community is a joint task force, comprising the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, DSS and other security agents.

“So it is a joint investigation team and the army is not doing it alone. We have heard comments from different people saying the army has taken over the community, but what they do not understand is that it is a joint task force carrying out the investigation.

“Once we have been deployed to operate, we have all the rights to effect arrest. So, the taskforce, which the army is also part of, was deployed legally to effect arrest and not to intimidate innocent people.”

He said the military team that went on the tragic peace-keeping were not armed. That was why they were surrounded, shot and killed and their bodies dismembered, he said.

He said the military was established to protect Nigeria and Nigerians and would not take it lightly when its men are brutally murdered for no just course.

He identified one Endurance Amagbein as the mastermind of the killing of the officers and soldiers.

He stated, “The killing of the 17 soldiers was premeditated because a group of criminals, cultists, militants, decided to take laws into their hands.”

He said, “He  (Endurance) is actually the mastermind. He is the one who actually planned and executed this with his boys. And you know they have a lot of issues of cultism within the general area. And again, like I always say, because they were making money illegally, they feel that they are above board, they have so much money that they can do whatever and they buy whoever it is that they can.

“But that’s one mistake they made. I think they’ve tried the wrong guys. And this time around, the full weight of the law is coming after him and his own team.”

The CDS described in graphic details the barbaric killing of the military personnel: “They killed the commanding officer and his team while on a peace keeping mission, and that is unacceptable. We are happy that the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces has given us his mandate to arrest the killers.”

The heavy presence of the military in Okuama community had drawn widespread condemnation from Nigerians, who said in the name of effecting arrest the military were over-doing things.

Some criticised the entire military operation in the civilian locality, saying the Nigerian constitution and the Armed Forces Act do not give the military the power to investigate and prosecute, as those responsibilities belong to the police.

But Musa believed the military was engaged in a legitimate operation. He claimed the military would not do anything to impede the rights of the people of the community.   

According to him, “The military appreciates Nigerians for commiserating with the armed forces for the loss of our gallant soldiers. I received condolence messages from within and outside of the country over the death of our soldiers and we appreciate them for their concern.”

He insisted said the military had the mandate to effect arrest in Okuama community and was doing so as a team in conjunction with a taskforce. 

He said, “The operation of the taskforce is regulated, otherwise it could have been a situation where we would have brought down the entire community flat. We did not go to that level, because we knew that not all the community members were involved in the killing of the soldiers.

“But we are also aware that people in the community are aware of the killing and they know the killers, and so that makes them complicit in the matter. What we are doing is to thoroughly search the community for illegal weapons and to effect arrest.

“The traditional ruler that was declared wanted and willingly submitted himself to the police for investigation, should be commended, and we expect others that have been declared wanted to equally surrender on their own accord.

“We will investigate them and handle the matter fairly. We are not irresponsible military that will go about killing people, but the truth is that if they have not tempered with our own gallant soldiers, we would not have come out in the first place.”

He called on Nigerians to support the military in their effort to arrest those involved in the killing.

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