ICYMI

May 10, 2024

24 hours after Army’s exit: 1 person macheted, 3 injured as intruders loot Okuama-Ewu

Okuama

•One of our brothers still missing —Akugbene chair

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Jimitota Onoyume, Akpokona Omafuaire & Chancel Bomadi Sunday

UGHELLI—Suspected peasants have killed an invader and macheted three others, who allegedly encroached on the Okuama-Ewu Community in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, to loot zinc, iron, rods and related scraps, barely 24 hours after the Nigerian Army pulled out of the embattled community.

Soldiers started withdrawing from the community, on Monday, and finally pulled out, on Wednesday, following negotiations between Governor Sheriff Oborevwori and the Army authorities.

Vanguard learned that soon after, some youths from neighbouring villages, observing that soldiers had withdrawn from Okuama-Ewu, went to the community to scavenge for things to sell.

Meanwhile, the people of Akugbene community in Bomadi Local Government Area of the state, have raised the alarm that one of the six persons attacked and macheted, by returnees of the embattled Okuama Community in Ughelli South was still missing.

They ambushed, macheted our people—Akugbene resident

A source from the neighbouring Akugbene Community in Bomadi Local Government Area of the state told Vanguard that they noticed soldiers leaving the Okuama-Ewu Community, on Tuesday. It explained that Okuama returnees ambushed and attacked four Akugbene indigenes with machetes.

His words: “As I talk to you, there is a problem: the Okuama returnees ambushed and butchered four indigenes of our community with machetes.

“They (Akugbene indigenes) were on their way to the Ezebiri Community along the footpath linking various communities on hearing that the road was free when the Okuama returnees ambushed them.

“One of them, who escaped to our community with machete cuts, narrated that the Okuama returnees pointed guns at them and attacked them, while on their way to Ezebiri.

“They attacked them with machetes, but he managed to escape while others were led towards the jetty in the community waterfront.

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“The victim is in a critical condition with us here at the primary healthcare centre,” he added.

On how Okuama-Ewu people, who fled the community on March 14, could have laid ambush for the Akugbene villagers, he said: “We believe some soldiers of Urhobo decent at Okuama must have passed prior information of their planned pull-out to them.

“We have some respite now, as we were practically caged, not moving out to neighbouring communities in the Okuama direction, where we buy most of our foodstuff and household materials, particularly at the Okuagbe market, so, our people went to buy foodstuff when they attacked them.”

One of our brothers still missing —Akugbene chair

Meanwhile, a former community chairman, who spoke to our reporter, disclosed that one of the two persons declared missing during the attack, returned to the community late last night and that one of the remaining victims was nowhere to be found.

He said: “It was two persons that were missing yesterday but one has already returned to the community late yesterday. But, up until this moment, the remaining person, whose name is Egberike Masah, is nowhere to be found. One of our brothers is still missing and the community is doing its best to know his whereabouts.”

Another source from a neighbouring community, who narrated fishermen’s account of the incident at Okuama, said: “Fishermen told us from the river that indigenes of Okuama on canoes came out of the creek leading to Ewu and crossed to the community on that day. They later crossed over with their canoes through the creek”.

The victims went to loot —Villagers

However, a villager from another community said: “On the Akugbene and Okuama returnee news, those youths went to Okuama to loot upon hearing that soldiers have left the community. The youths of Okuama accosted and macheted them.

“Two of those Akugbene youths escaped to our community unhurt and we have already sent them back to their community.

“I noticed the soldiers pulling out from Okuama around 5p.m., to 6p.m. A soldier said they received signal from above to leave the community.”

We will maintain peace—Koki, Okoloba chair

The chair of the Okoloba community, Mr. Clement Koki, said that his community would continue to maintain peace and pray to God for protection.

He said: “Soldiers have indeed left Okuama, as a community, we will continue to maintain the peace and pray to God Almighty for His protection and support.”

No Okuama-Ewu indigene has returned, says community leader

One leader of the community, who confirmed the withdrawal of soldiers from Okuama-Ewu, said: “No indigene has gone back there. We heard that the army has left Okuama-Ewu, but none of our people can go there now until the government gives a clear announcement.

“So, no one will go there because the soldiers could be patrolling around and can swoop on anyone who goes there.”

A villager, who expressed disappointment at the action of the scavengers, said: “As soldiers withdrew, boys from a nearby community invaded the place to remove irons, rods, and all that. Some indigenes of Okuama who sneaked there when they heard the army had vacated saw them removing zinc and rods as if what the community went through was not enough. Well, they chose to be calm.”

Community members reported that troops have vacated —Ejedegba, Okuama solicitor

Counsel to the community, Mr. Innocent Ejedegba, said some of the community folks called to inform him of the development.