Military Raid in Bayelsa Leaves 20 Youths Dead, Buildings Razed as Residents Recount Horrors

Military raid in Igbomotoru, Nigeria leaves 20 youths dead; Bayelsa monarch accuses former ruler and security firm of collusion with soldiers in atrocities against returning residents.

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Military Raid in Bayelsa Leaves 20 Youths Dead, Buildings Razed as Residents Recount Horrors

Military Raid in Bayelsa Leaves 20 Youths Dead, Buildings Razed as Residents Recount Horrors

On March 17, 2024, a military raid on Igbomotoru community in Bayelsa State, Nigeria, left about 20 youths dead and buildings razed. The acting traditional ruler, His Royal Highness Goodluck Alagodei, has accused a dethroned former monarch and operatives of an anti-oil theft security company of working with some military personnel to carry out atrocities against returning indigenes and residents who had fled the community following the military invasion.

The armed soldiers conducted the dawn invasion of Igbomotoru, a community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, in search of the masterminds behind the killing of 17 soldiers at Okuama, Delta State. During the military operation, about 20 youths were reportedly killed in Igbomotoru 2 community.

Although normalcy has returned to the area, with heavy military presence, some residents are yet to return home due to fear. The governor of Bayelsa, Douye Diri, along with the Commander of the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, visited the community and called on the people to return home. Residents recounted the horrors of the military invasion, with some losing their loved ones.

Why this matters: The military raid in Igbomotoru highlights the ongoing tensions and conflicts in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, where oil theft and attacks on security forces have been prevalent. The incident raises concerns about the use of excessive force by the military and the impact on innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

King Alagodei has appealed to Governor Diri to intervene urgently to avoid the situation escalating into a major crisis. He has called on the military high command to ensure their personnel operate within permissible frameworks while searching for the suspected Okuama killers. The monarch accused the perpetrators of ransacking the community, dragging out people, flogging them, and arresting them on trumped-up charges before handing them over to soldiers for torture.

The Urhobo Renaissance Society (URS) condemned the killings and accused the military of deliberately trying to wipe out the Okuama community, despite the lack of evidence linking them to the soldiers' deaths. The military has provided conflicting narratives about the incident, and the URS has called for the release of the King of Ewu Kingdom, who has been held incommunicado.

The military raid on Igbomotoru has left the community in a state of shock and mourning. Residents have expressed concern about potential victimization of innocent people and called for justice and normalcy to be restored. The heavy military presence in the area serves as a sobering reminder of the ongoing security challenges faced by communities in the Niger Delta region.

Key Takeaways

  • Military raid on Igbomotoru, Bayelsa, killed ~20 youths, razed buildings.
  • Raid was in search of killers of 17 soldiers at Okuama, Delta.
  • Monarch accuses ex-ruler, security firm of colluding with military for atrocities.
  • Residents fear return home, governor and army commander visit community.
  • Urhobo group condemns killings, calls for release of detained Ewu king.