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Nigerian army denies reprisal attack in Delta after 16 troops killed

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Men in army uniform plundered and destroyed homes in Nigeria’s oil-producing Delta state days after 16 troops dispatched to settle a land dispute were slain, according to residents, although the Nigerian army denied military involvement.

Residents reported that the Nigerian army stormed the riverfront Okuoma settlement of a few hundred people on Sunday while seeking those guilty of Thursday’s killings.

Tam Oburumu, who left his home, claimed uniformed men were seeking firearms and raided residences before torching them.

“The damage for now is huge, a lot of houses were burned,” Oburumu said by phone from a nearby village where he has sought refuge.

Government-owned properties, including a primary school and
the hospital was spared by the Nigerian army, the residents claimed.

President Bola Tinubu said he had given the military full authority to hunt down those responsible for killing the soldiers, which he described as an “unconscionable crime against the Nigerian people”.

Defence chief, General Musa denied that soldiers had attacked the community. “No reprisals by the army. We are searching for the murderers and their weapon cache,” Musa said in a text message to Reuters.

There are frequent, sometimes deadly, clashes over land or compensation for oil spills by energy companies in many Delta state communities.

Friday Addy, a trader in Okuoma, said she and her mother had left their home when soldiers arrived.

“The people have fled for their lives, and many are missing and we cannot locate them. We are helpless,” said Addy.

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