Okuama 17: Delta Monarch Surrenders Self To Police

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The embattled traditional ruler of Ewu-Urhobo kingdom in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, HRM Clement Ikolo, Urukpe 1, who is among eight persons declared wanted by Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in connection with the killing of 16 soldiers in Okuama on March 14, has surrendered himself to the police.

The monarch reported himself at Delta State Police Headquarters in Asaba at 9:20pm on Thursday.
The Commissioner of Police, Delta State Command, Mr. Olufemi Abaniwonda, confirmed the latest development in a telephone interview with our correspondent last night.
Abaniwonda said: “Yes, I can confirm to you that the traditional ruler is with us. He surrendered himself to us at police headquarters in Asaba this (Thursday) night. We are going to hand him over to the military, which declared him wanted.”

The monarch, HRM Clement Ikolo, Urukpe 1, who had reportedly ascended the throne in controversial circumstances on November 16, 2023, was number seven in the list released by DHQ yesterday morning.
Okuama community, the scene of the bloodbath which claimed the lives of the 17 soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of 181 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, Bomadi, Headquarters of Bomadi LGA of Delta state, Lt. Col. A. H. Ali, Major S.D. Shafa, Major D.E. Obi and Captain U. Zakari, is among 17 communities in Ewu Kingdom under the traditional authority of the wanted monarch.

The director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba disclosed this during the biweekly update on military operations across the country yesterday, in Abuja.
He said Nigeria as nation must never allow the incident that occurred in Delta State – which led to the killing of 17 soldiers that were buried on March 27, 2024 – to ever happen again, adding that the armed forces are forces for stability that employ both kinetic and non-kinetic measures to achieve the desired end state.

General Buba said before the ugly incident, the military had, as part of efforts to gain goodwill, constructed several civic projects in Delta State.
He, therefore, called on elders and community leaders to expose the wanted persons and ensure their arrest.
He said, “The banner of eight wanted persons involved with the killing including a woman is hereby released. Accordingly, it is necessary to state that citizens are our first line of intelligence and must rise to the occasion in honour of their nation.”
The wanted persons are Prof. Ekpekpo Arthur (monarch), Andaowei Dennis Bakriri, Akevwru Daniel Omotegbo (a.k.a. Amagbein), Akata Malawa David, Sinclear Oliki, Clement Ikolo Oghenerukeywe, Reuben Baru and Igoli Ebi.

He said the elders and community leaders have an obligation to expose these wanted persons.
The director said troops would continue with their efforts until the culprits are found, arrested, tried, and brought to justice by Nigerian law.
However, the monarch, in an earlier telephone interview with LEADERSHIP Friday from his hideout, yesterday, expressed his innocence.
He advised the authorities at DHQ to embark on thorough and painstaking investigation that would uncover the identities of the real culprits of the dastardly act.

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The troops, who were said to be on peace-keeping and mediatory roles in the area, were ambushed and murdered on Thursday, March 14, 2024, in yet unclear circumstances.
The remains of the slain soldiers were buried in Abuja on Wednesday, in an event attended by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, service chiefs, state governors, military top brass and bereaved family members.
Tinubu, at the occasion, promised that justice would be done in the incident in memory of the fallen soldiers and vowed that their killers would not escape appropriate punishment.
Tinubu challenged the security agencies to smoke out the murderers.
Less than 24 hours after the presidential order, DHQ reeled out the names of the wanted persons in connection with the heinous crime on Thursday.

Top on the list, aside the monarch, is the president-general of Okuama community, Prof. Ekpekpo Arthur.
Also on the list is the head of a notorious militant and oil-bunkering gang in the waterways of Bayelsa and Delta states, Akevwru Daniel Omotegboro, alias Amangbein.
The search for Amangbein led to the raid of Igbomotoru community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa state by irate federal troops in the aftermath of the soldiers killing last week, leaving in its trail large-scale tales of woe by the inhabitants of the Ijaw community.
The troops invaded the community on the strength of suspicion that it was harbouring Amangbein and members of his gang.

Also on the list is Reuben Baru, who recently appeared in a viral video, claiming responsibility for the unwholesome fate of the murdered military personnel.
Igoli Ebi is the only woman among the suspects. She is suspected to be the mother of one of the suspects.

Another three suspects, whose names were contained in the DHQ list, are Akata Malawa David, Sinclear Oliki and Adaowei Dennis Bakriri, who are suspected members of the Amangbein gang.
The monarch, in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP Friday, battled to establish his innocence, saying that the same persons who might be responsible for the death of the soldiers had barred him from accessing the throne since his coronation on November 16, 2023.
He accused the military of chasing shadows.

He said, “This morning, to my greatest surprise, I saw my name on the list of persons wanted in connection with this heinous crime. It’s a shock to me because I have no hand in such a thing. I don’t believe in anything that has got to do with truncating the lives of human beings.
“I am not in any way, shape or form connected to this. Let it be stated clearly here that I have not been able, even as a monarch, to access the kingdom till date. I got my staff of office on the 16th of November, 2023; prior to that, it had been turbulent. The government is sufficiently aware of my problems and I am really, really very surprised and taken aback that my name as monarch of the kingdom will appear on the list of wanted persons.

“I have no hand in the killings and I have no hand in encouraging anybody to kill anybody.
“It’s against my philosophy as human being, and my faith as a Catholic is against it. This is a serious crime against humanity. They (DHQ) need to look at the appropriate places; they (DHQ) need to do a thorough investigation to know all those who have committed this crime and bring them to book,” the embattled monarch stated in an emotion-laden tone.

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