Major General Cecil Esekhaigbe (retd.) has stated how 16 military personnel were assassinated last Thursday in Delta State’s Okuama town in Ughelli South.

Esekhaigbe claimed that the unsuspecting soldiers were ambushed by locals.

He revealed this during his appearance on Channels Television’s The Morning Brief breakfast show on Monday.

On Thursday, 16 Nigerian soldiers were murdered while on a mission to quell hostilities between two villages in the South-South state of Delta.

According to Defence Headquarters, the personnel consisted of two Majors, one Captain, and twelve soldiers.

According to a statement by the Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Tukur Gusau, the troops from the 181 Amphibious Battalion were deployed in the Bomadi region and were on a peace-keeping mission in the Okuoma community when they were killed on Thursday.

The killings have been condemned by many stakeholders with President Bola Tinubu vowing that the perpetrators will not go unpunished.

Reacting to the killings, Esekhaigbe said the soldiers were in the coastal community to find out why their colleagues who were on a peacekeeping mission to the village were held hostage and not to fight.

He added that the soldiers would not have been killed if they had been prepared.

He said, “It is unfortunate that we have spent a lot of money on a thing we called amnesty programme which was designed for those militia groups to lay down their weapons.

“If after the amnesty and the purported surrendering of weapons, we still have local communities that have sophisticated weapons like this, it calls for a re-examination of the entire process.

“Now, don’t forget you called it a peace mission, the mindset of these officers and men was to go and find out what the problems were and to find out why their men were kept behind. So, their mind was not to go and fight and that is what we must understand. So, they were not going with the mentality of going for an attack, if they, even as few as they were, they would not have been able to surround and dastardly murder them the way they did.

“So, what played out here is that they fell into an ambush because these militia groups have sophisticated weapons and when you are ambushed, no matter how sophisticated you are, you will definitely have the consequences of an ambush. That calls to mind the need for training and retraining because you must know the local environment in which you are operating.”

Speaking on the insecurity in the state, Esekhaigbe listed the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, drug abuse and lack of governance as contributory factors.

He, however, called for the rejig of the institutions rather than just renaming them.

“We have what we call institutional failure in all sectors. Let me tell you the contributory factors of this insecurity that is everywhere, one is the proliferation of small arms and light weapons all over the place.

“Two is the menace of drug abuse, and three is the lack of governance in this state. I heard they have small arms and light weapons centre domiciled in the NSA office. what are they bringing on board? You don’t domicile something and just be in an office like that. they are supposed to go out and retrieve these arms.

“We must rejig our institutions not just by giving them names and domiciling them somewhere. Two, what is the National Orientation Agency doing if not to re-orientate our psyche? This hatred and unnecessary and unwanted killing of people without any meaningful reason should be duly addressed.

“Three, some of these governors have humongous security votes. What do you do with this humongous security vote if the lives of your community are the community is continuously threatened and communal clashes abound everywhere without a meaningful response from the government? Let’s get serious.”




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