Metro

April 22, 2024

Okuama-Ewu identifies 11 persons killed by military, 413 houses destroyed

Okuama

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South and Akpokona Omafuaire

UGHELLI- Okuama-Ewu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State has revealed the names of 11 people that troops of the Nigerian Army purportedly shot dead when they overran the community after the killing of 17 military personnel in the riverside town on March 14.

The community, which instituted a fresh N151 billion suit against the Federal Government, Attorney-General of the Federation, Nigerian Army, Chief of Defence Staff, Nigerian Police, and Commissioner of Police, Delta State, at a Federal High Court in Warri, also listed 413 houses, seven churches, shrines, and other properties allegedly destroyed by the soldiers.

‘9 persons killed’

A community leader, and one of the three applicants in the new N151 billion suit, Mr. Bernard Esegba, said: “The following are among the people killed by the personnel of the third respondent (Armed Forces of the Federation): Mr. Wilson Eshebi Okorume; Mr. Joseph Ikpitere Ejomafuvwe; Mr. Teddy Ufuoma; Mr. Avwarariko Akpoprobaro, and Mr. Tega Osiko Oyibo.”

“Others are Mr. Meshack Igho; Mr. Hausa Super; Mr. Agbabuneke Okiemute; Mr. Taiga OmoJesu; Mr. Omogre Ashimini, and Mr. Omotegbono Isaac Esapo.”

He stated that during the invasion, the troops “destroyed and burnt buildings belonging to our Okuama community in the nine quarters of the community and left no single building standing.”

“The third respondent’s personnel razed down the entire community as a form of retaliation or revenge for the killing of their said personnel.”

The Okuama-Ewu community enumerating 413 houses belonging to different persons, including Archbishop Cyril Odutemu, UgrLowo family compound, Esegba Okolo family compound, Late Bishop Agori Iwe building, Rt. Hon. Godwon Owoko Esegba building, Madam Ugrowo Okoro, Late Pa Emabi hall, and Pa Oghenehwosa Okoro.

“As of the time of this report, the above are those whose damaged or burned buildings/houses in the community we have been able to ascertain. Several other buildings and houses belong to members of our community in the various quarters.”

‘Other properties destroyed’

“I am aware that during the said invasion of our community by the third respondent’s personnel, they also destroyed or burned down the following church buildings: Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Okuama; Okuama Baptist Church; God’s Grace Ministry, Okuama; Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), Okuama; Okuama Catholic Church; Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry, Okuama; and Okuama Anglican Church pastorium.”

“They also destroyed the solar electricity power system installed in the various quarters of our community.

“They burnt several personal belongings of our people in our homes and houses, including wrappers (dresses), of men and women, native shirts, coral beads and other expensive pieces of jewelry, shoes, caps/walking sticks, traditional boxes of clothes, air cooler boxes, television sets, refrigerators, deep freezers, and electricity generators, telephone handsets, and cooking utensils, among others.

“They also destroyed food items at home and the Okuama Market, including yams, garri, fish (fresh and dried fish), plantain, bush meat, snails, shellfish of various kinds, rice, beans, and others.

“The above acts of destruction and burning down of our community by the personnel of the third respondent were carried out between March 14 and March 25, 2024.

In the notice of application for the enforcement of fundamental human rights filed in the Federal High Court, Warri, between Prof Arthur Ekpekpo, one of the eight persons the Defence Headquarters declared wanted for the killing of 17 military personnel, Mr James Oghoroko, president-general of Okuama community, and Esegba as applicants, on behalf of residents of Okuama, sought 24 reliefs.

The seven respondents are the Federal Government, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Nigerian Police Force, and the Commissioner of Police, Delta State.

Chief Albert Akpomudje, SAN is leading the 14-man team of lawyers for the applicants, including Prof Joseph Abugu, O. J. Oghenejabor, Chief Emmanuel Omovie, Dr. Jonathan Ekperusi, Mrs. Efe Olomu, and Andrew Ubido, Felix America, Omoefe Evueyere, Oshevire Gbakeji Esq, Simon Sabuka, Miss Oghomaria Erirhe, Princess Omeyoma Eshemitan and Miss Hope-Marina Uduapi.

Among the reliefs they sought from the court is a declaration that the continuing occupation of the Okuama community by the Nigerian Army until date is ultra vires the powers of the Nigerian Army.

A declaration that the declaration of the first applicant as a wanted person by the third and fifth respondents in connection with the killing of personnel of the third respondent on March 14 or thereabout, amounts to defamation of the character and person of the first applicant as a respected university professor and community leader.

A declaration that the so-called declaration also amounts to usurpation of the constitutional responsibility of the sixth and seventh respondents.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, whether by themselves, their officers, agents, privies, representatives, or howsoever, from further infringing on the fundamental rights of the applicants’ in Okuama community.

An order setting aside the unilateral declaration of the first applicant and other members of the applicants’ Okuama community as wanted persons by the third and fifth respondents as well the killing of personnel of the third respondent on March 14 or thereabout.

An order of perpetual injunction restraining the third and fifth respondents from usurping the constitutional responsibility of the sixth and seventh respondents on investigation of crimes allegedly committed by civilians in Nigeria, under Section 215 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

An order of mandatory injunction directing the sixth and seventh respondents to investigate every allegation of crime levelled against the first applicant, and other members of the applicants’ Okuama community.

An order of mandatory injunction directing respondents to immediately rebuild and immediately rehabilitate members of the applicants’ Okuama community by rebuilding their houses, homesteads, farmlands, churches, shrines, schools, markets, forests, villages, and properties destroyed during the respondents’ unlawful invasion and destruction of the lives and properties of the applicants’ Okuama community.

An order of mandatory injunction directing the first and second respondents to set up a valuation committee that must include representatives of the applicants’ Okuama community, and the Delta State Government to carry out a thorough valuation of the extent of damage and destruction committed in the applicants’ Okuama community by the personnel of the third and fifth respondents.

An order of mandatory injunction directing the personnel of the third and fifth respondents to discontinue their occupation of the applicants’ Okuama community to enable the people of the Okuama community to return to their ancestral homes to treat the wounded, bury the dead, and reintegrate back into their community.

They demanded N150 billion as general damages for the gross violation of the fundamental rights of the applicants’ Okuama community.

The applicants also request one billion naira as general damages for the defamation of the character and person of the first applicant, whom the third and fifth respondents declared wanted in connection with the killing of the personnel of the third respondent on March 14, 2024, or thereabouts.