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CDS: Okuama killing was premeditated — perpetrators make money from crude oil theft

CDS: Okuama killing was premeditated — perpetrators make money from crude oil theft
April 03
15:01 2024

Christopher Musa, chief of defence staff, says the killing of 17 army personnel in Okuama community of Delta state, can be linked to crude oil theft in the region. 

Speaking on Wednesday during an interview on Arise TV, Musa added that the attack on the personnel who were on a peacekeeping mission, was “premeditated”.

On March 14, some youths of the community killed a group of officers comprising a lieutenant colonel, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers.

Musa said residents and community leaders knew what was going on in the community, adding that the attack was an attempt to stop the army from curbing oil theft in the region.

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Commenting on the rights of the army to apprehend criminals, he said the army does not take laws into its hands but works with other security agencies to conduct investigations.

He said the army has been handling the aftermath of the killings with professionalism, adding that the military is not made up of  “animals” who go around killing people.

“People need to understand that the military is established as an authority of the government to protect Nigeria and Nigerians and that is why we take it very seriously when criminals take laws into their hands against members of the armed forces, security agencies or citizens of the country,” he added.

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“The issue of the Okuama attack was premeditated because they are a group of criminals, cultists, and militants. Because they make a lot of money from crude oil theft, they believe they are above God.

“They did this deliberately just because the commanding officer and his team were ensuring that any act of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, illegal refineries were completely eradicated from that region.

“I know a lot of comments have been made by different kinds of people, some from a lack of understanding. When you have a joint task force… a joint task force involves members of the armed forces, the army, navy, air force, the police, the DSS. Every other security agency is part of it.

“When we have an arrest, we have a joint investigation team, so it’s not like the army is taking laws into their hands.

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“Once we are deployed on an operation, we have the rights and the mandate to arrest all acts of criminalities in that area. So, they were deployed there legally and doing a legal operation.

“I have very serious respect for elders but I would also like the elders to also speak from the position of strength. They cannot say they do not know what was going on there.”

Musa also commended the monarch who turned himself in after the army declared eight persons wanted over the killings.

“Whatever the intent is, we remain focused and committed. If you noticed, our operation was highly regulated,” he said.

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“I mean, ideally, before now, there would have been a situation where we would have gone and flattened all the communities in that area but we felt not everybody was involved.

“A lot of people knew what was going on and kept quiet. So that makes them complicit.

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“We are conducting a search operation to thoroughly search for our weapons and to arrest those who carried out this dastardly act.

“I’m happy with the traditional ruler that submitted himself — which was the best thing to do. I wish all the others in the picture would do the same.

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“We are not animals, we are not barbaric and so can’t go about killing people. If they had not touched our armed forces, nobody would have been there.”

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