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Looming Communal Clash Between Okuama and Okoloba Communities Over Soldier Killings

Tensions are rising between the Okoloba and Okuama communities in Delta State following the withdrawal of soldiers from the area. The previous conflict between these communities resulted in the deaths of 17 Nigerian soldiers.

Women from Okoloba community in Bomadi Local Government Area protested on Saturday against the resurgence of armed youths in the area. Led by Mrs. Timipakebi Goodwin, chairlady of Okoloba community, and Mrs. Mary Koibi, secretary, the women, clad in black, staged a peaceful demonstration along the coastal fringes of Okoloba. They chanted slogans against violence and bloodshed, urging the Federal Government to intervene.

The protestors carried placards with messages such as “We say No to violence,” “Enough of the killings on our land,” “We say no to the return of armed youths of Okuama in a commando style,” “Resettle Okuama people among their Ewu brothers in Ughelli South LGA,” and “We mourn the killing of the 17 soldiers.”

In a protest letter copied to the Police, DSS, NSCDC, JTF, and the Acting Chairman of Bomadi LGA, Mrs. Goodwin highlighted the dangers posed by the armed youths, who could kill at the slightest provocation.

“Less than 24 hours after the exit of the troops from Okuama, a fresh crisis erupted with another neighboring community, leading to one death and three serious injuries. The person killed and those injured were allegedly looting,” the letter read.

The letter further stated, “The latest killing shows that the people of Okuama can kill at the slightest provocation, valuing human life very little. This endangers neighboring Ijaw communities like Okoloba. Resettling the people of Okuama in their current location, amidst communities in Bomadi LGA, will only encourage further clashes and bloodshed.”

The protestors also recounted an incident where youths from Okuama emerged from the Mein-toruabubor creek, leading to Ewu, on three speedboats, dressed in camouflage. They shot sporadically in the air before proceeding to Okuama, repeating the journey three times, each time firing their guns at the creek’s entrance.

“We call on the Federal Government to help. The solution to these clashes and killings is to relocate Okuama to the Ewu clan in Ughelli South LGA, where they belong. Resettling them among their kin in Ewu will foster mutual trust as they share the same ancestry and dialect,” the letter urged.

The women of Okoloba community expressed their condolences for the 17 soldiers killed during the peace and rescue mission to Okuama, following the kidnapping of an Okoloba resident. They mourned the soldiers’ untimely deaths and prayed for the repose of their souls and for their families.

The fresh crisis in Okuama, less than 24 hours after the troops’ withdrawal, resulted in one death and three serious injuries, indicating the ongoing volatility in the region.

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