Okuama Residents File N200 Billion Lawsuit Against Nigerian Army Over Invasion

Residents of Okuama, Nigeria, file $200B lawsuit against army for invasion, killings, and rights violations. Investigation reveals incident was due to oil bunker feud, not military action.

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Okuama Residents File N200 Billion Lawsuit Against Nigerian Army Over Invasion

Okuama Residents File N200 Billion Lawsuit Against Nigerian Army Over Invasion

Residents of Okuama community in Delta State, Nigeria, have filed a N200 billion lawsuit against the Nigerian Army for invading their community, accusing them of killing 17 soldiers without investigation, demolishing homes, and forcing residents to flee into forests.

The residents, including farmers, traders, and businessmen, are seeking relief for the Army's actions, which they claim were a flagrant violation of their fundamental human rights. The lawsuit, filed in the Federal High Court, accuses the Army of cordoning off the community, destroying homes and properties, dehumanizing and accusing the residents of the soldiers' deaths without due process, forcefully evicting residents, and depriving them of their rights to freedom of movement, private and family life, and the right to own property.

The traditional ruler of the Ewu Kingdom, Clement Ikolo, who was earlier declared wanted by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) alongside seven others for their alleged involvement in the killing of the soldiers, was released on April 19 after being detained. The military authorities claimed the slain officers were on a peace mission to the warring towns of Okuama and Okoloba communities when they were attacked.

Why this matters: The lawsuit highlights the ongoing tensions between local communities and the Nigerian military, as well as the broader issues of human rights violations and the use of force by security forces in the country. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for similar incidents and have implications for the accountability of the military in its dealings with civilian populations.

However, an investigation by the ICIR revealed that the killing was a result of a feud between an illegal oil bunker, Endurance Okodeh alias Amangbein, and a sophisticated cartel of illegal oil bunkers. The army spokesperson, Major-General Onyema Nwachukwu, stated that while the army has not exonerated anyone regarding the incident, they decided to release the monarch after intervention of highly-placed personalities and a painstaking review. "The senator representing Delta Central testified to the monarch's honorable character, leading to his release following interventions from prominent individuals and a comprehensive reassessment," Nwachukwu said.

Key Takeaways

  • Okuama residents file N200bn lawsuit against Nigerian Army for invasion, killings.
  • Army accused of rights violations, including killing 17 soldiers without investigation.
  • Traditional ruler detained, later released after intervention by prominent individuals.
  • Killing of soldiers linked to feud between illegal oil bunkerers, not community.
  • Lawsuit highlights tensions between communities and military, issues of accountability.