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Killing of 16 soldiers: It is a stab in the back –MURIC

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An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has condemned the killing of 16 officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army 181 Amphibious Battalion.

The murdered officers comprising a lieutenant colonel, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers were brutally killed while on a peace mission in Okuama Community of Delta State on Thursday, 14th March, 2024.

The group described the act as cowardly, criminal, barbaric and unpatriotic.

The human rights organization spoke on Tuesday, 19th March, 2024 through its founder and Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

The full statement reads: “Criminal elements in Okuama Community of Delta State attacked and killed 16 officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army 181 Amphibious Battalion comprising a lieutenant colonel, two majors, one captain and 12 soldiers. The troops were killed while on a peace mission in the community on Thursday, 14th March, 2024.

“This unprovoked attack is unjustifiable by any parameter and we strongly condemn it. It is cowardly, criminal, barbaric and unpatriotic. The fact that there was no prior confrontation or act of aggression on the part of the soldiers before the attack makes the killings premeditated, inhuman and heartless.

“It is only criminals and unscrupulous elements who hate and kill security agents. It is also only such hoodlums and social miscreants who burn and destroy buildings and vehicles belonging to security agents and the government.

“MURIC advises community leaders in Okuama to expose those behind the heinous crime. We also advise the suspects to turn themselves in with immediate effect in order to preserve the good name of the community.

“We call on Nigerians to evolve the culture of cherishing their heroes. Our security agencies including the army, police and the Department of State Services (DSS) deserve our respect and cooperation. They are at the forefront of all security challenges. The army in particular is our first line of defence. That is why we are deeply hurt that men of the Nigerian Army were killed in this callous manner by the same people whom they were protecting. It is a stab in the back.

“The security agencies stay awake so that we can sleep. They are in the trenches under rain and burning sun so that we can enjoy the comfort of our homes. They leave their families for months so that we can be among our loved ones. It amounts to articulated ingratitude to attack those who give so much to us.

“We appeal to Nigerians to continue to support security agents and to report crimes and criminals to them promptly without fear. The army, police and DSS alone cannot do the work effectively. They need us and it is part of our civic responsibility to cooperate with them.

“MURIC assures the leadership and men of the Nigerian Army and other security agencies that millions of Nigerians are with them in their efforts to fight criminality and restore normalcy in the country. The few criminals in Okuama are just a drop in the ocean. The rest of us should not be judged by a handful who is shameless saboteurs. We therefore urge the army to put this sad incident behind it.

“We urge the Federal Government to institute a special Medal of Okuama to be given post humously to the 12 heroes and subsequently to be reserved for soldiers slain in like manner in future.

“As we mourn the fallen patriots and heroes, we condole with the army leadership and pray that Allah will give their respective families the fortitude to bear this irrepairable loss.”

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