Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun

Accredited Mediator | Certified Professional Manager and Trainer in Workplace Conflicts


Echoes of Tragedy: Reflecting on the Okuama Incident and Lessons from History

My heart goes to the people of Okuama community, and the military men who lost their loved ones during the violent encounter that took place after a peace talk in the community.

What happened at Okuama community in Ughelli, South Local Government area of Delta State was preventable and avoidable.

The killings of civilians and the military officers and men is a national tragedy. Lives and properties were lost because all the actors forgot the painful historical past, which is why history exists as a subject.

When shall we then learn from history? For those young and might not know about the Odi episode, please follow me.

Scene 1: In 1999, about 12 policemen and some soldiers, among them a commissioner of police were killed and buried in a cassava farm by an unidentified militia group at Odi.

Scene 2. President Obasanjo ordered that the culprits of the killings must be brought to book. With that order, the military ransacked Odi, killed any moving object in sight, and razed down the village.

Scene 3. In 2013, the federal government was ordered to pay N37.6 billion as compensation to the people of Odi. It was negotiated and Jonathan’s administration was said to have paid N15 billion as an out-of-court settlement.

Fast track to 2024, the sad Odi episode reincarnated at Okuama. This time, 16 officers and men of the military, including a Lt. Col were killed by yet to be identified persons, who were reacting to the military’s incursion into their community.

Just like the Odi episode, President Tinubu ordered the military to fish out the culprits and bring them to justice.

Reprissals have taken place, and the Okuama community has been burnt down by the avenging military, which as always would ever remain “an unknown soldier”

If all the actors were good students of history, they should have known that their actions would have dire consequences for the community, the country and, therefore, have done things differently.

The Federal and Delta State Governments should ensure that the truth behind the Okuama incidence is unraveled with a bid to deliver justice to the hurt.

I pray that this type of affliction shall not befall us again as a people. Never! This is one ugly incident too many.

I guess when the ash of war cools, the community will seek justice the way of Odi. But will the billions to be paid bring back the dead on both sides? Your guess is as good as mine.

Grace and peace!!!