• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Okuama killings: Women, children stranded in the forest running for cover

Oborevwori inaugurates Signature Bank in Asaba

Many residents of Okuama Community, vastly women and children, who fled for dear lives following the invasion of troops of the Nigerian Army over the gruesome killing of 17 soldiers last Friday have been trapped in the forest for the past six days, left with no food, according to a media report.

Okuama, a community in Ewu Kingdom, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, has become a shadow of itself as the once peaceful area has now become deserted and out of bounds.

Even the Delta State governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, confirmed he could not visit the place because of the situation. He cautioned traditional rulers in the state yesterday against shielding suspects involved in the killing of soldiers in Okuama community.

Meanwhile, governors of the 36 states of the federation have flayed the killing of the military personnel, restating their demand for state police.

Also, a former Minister of Communications, Tajudeen Olanrewaju, yesterday warned that the killing of the military personnel might signal a new build-up of community warfare that could snowball into a bigger conflict in the region if not addressed.

In the same vein, Mike Ejiofor, a former director of the Department of State Services, DSS said an independent probe of the killing could indict some very important VIPs.

Hunger in Igbomotoru, Okuama refugees denied shelters

In the coastal town of Igbomotoru, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, the siege laid by troops for the manhunt for a militant leader suspected to have masterminded the killings, is pushing the community towards starvation that could trigger a humanitarian crisis if it persists.

Days ago, Okuama women cried out that they fled into the forests when soldiers allegedly opened fire on villagers in the town hall after the community refused their attempt to take away the community leaders.

According  to the media report, the neighboring communities to Okuama refused to take in fleeing residents from Okuama as refugees in their homelands because of fear of persecution by soldiers who come around searching for perpetrators of the heinous crime.

Due to the unplanned escape, the women could not take food items with them to the forest, and haven’t been able to return to the community as soldiers have taken over the town.

One indigene of a neighbouring community in Ewu Kingdom said the situation of the victims of the military onslaught at Okuama is pitiable.

“Hunger is taking a toll on them, especially the children they are carrying. This is a humanitarian crisis, and the government has to open a refugee camp for these people and provide them with food.

“Soldiers molest innocent people in neighbouring communities of Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area. As I am speaking with you, soldiers are still at the Orere community in Ewu kingdom in search of the perpetrators, molesting innocent people,” the local said.

The native stated that neighboring communities in the Ewu Kingdom are not receiving fleeing indigenes of Okuama who are mostly women and children, for fear of harassment and molestation by the military.

“As we speak, neighboring communities are living in fear because the military is using drones to watch over all communities,’’ the local added.

A resident of Orere community said people in neighbouring communities are having sleepless nights over the presence of soldiers in their town.

“We are having sleepless nights over what happened at Okuama because the military is after the perpetrators fleeing from the scene of the incident. To be candid, nobody is happy over what happened to the soldiers at Okuama.

“But, the issue has degenerated, and we are all affected. They would come to your community, brutalizing innocent people,” the native lamented.

“I want to use this medium to call on the Federal Government to consider setting up refugee camps for women and children displaced from Okuama community, who nobody wants to accommodate because of fear of the rampaging soldiers in neighbouring communities,” the local added.