Published On: Sat, Apr 13th, 2024

Okuama: Urhobo Youths Demand Release Of Monarch As Condition To Appear Before Military Panel


LAGOS APRIL 13TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The youth wing of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU) worldwide, and the Urhobo Youth Leaders Association have demanded the release of detained Ovie of Ewu-Urhobo Kingdom, Clement Ikolo, Urhukpe 1 as condition to appear before the ongoing military inquiry into the Okuama killings.
The Urhobo youth groups which raised concerns over bias and impartiality in the composition of the panel, also called for the unconditional release of the monarch to his people.
The condition was part of more that were outlined in a position paper presented for non-participation in the probe exercise.
Special Adviser to the Governor of Delta State on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution, Chief Edwin Uzor JP, had invited Blessed Ughere, the President, Youth Wing Worldwide of the UPU, and Chief Samuel Oghotomo, President, Urhobo Youths Leaders Association.

Responding to the invitation, the groups said they would not participate in the Military Board of Inquiry Investigating the tragic event of March 17 in Okuama until specific conditions were met.
“We outline below the legal, ethical, and humanitarian reasons that inform our decision. Doctrine of ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’ (No one should be a judge in their own case):
“The Nigerian Army, being a party involved in the matter, cannot impartially conduct an investigation or adjudication. More so, when the Army have already taken position by declaring eight persons wanted without inviting them for proper investigation.
“This fundamental principle of natural justice prohibits biased entities from presiding over cases where they have vested interests. It is our considered view that Okuama people are not subject to military laws,” the groups said.
While saying a military-led inquiry lacks the legal authority to investigate civilian matters, they demanded that the culprits responsible for the gruesome killings be apprehended,
and handed over to the police for prosecution.
“We dissociate ourselves from these individuals, as it is not in our character as Urhobo people to take lives, let alone that of the Army who have been in the fore-front of keeping this nation secure and safe.
The unions demanded the Nigerian Army to cease from harassing Urhobo neighbouring communities to Okuama.
“Just yesterday the Army invaded Olota community, arrested community leaders and set houses ablaze, and Okuama community still under siege while panel of inquiry is ongoing,” they alleged.
The military’s previous declarations and actions, including declaring Okuama community leaders as ‘wanted’ in various media outlets, undermine the credibility of the Board of Inquiry.
The unions accused the military, saying “conflicting statements from the Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, General Christopher Musa further erode trust in the military’s ability to conduct a
fair and unbiased investigation.
“Initially attributing it to oil bunkering activities, the Army later implicated both Okuama and Okoloba communities. Such inconsistencies raise questions that an independent panel of inquiry should address.
“For a fair and transparent inquiry, an independent body such as the Police should lead the investigation. A commission of inquiry, not set up by the Army, would ensure impartiality and adherence to the principles of natural justice.
“The doctrine of ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’ underscores the necessity for the investigating authority to be composed of impartial individuals, free from bias and interference.
“The Okuama community is currently displaced, making it impractical and unsafe for them to participate in the inquiry. The ongoing military cordon-and-search operation has further exacerbated the situation, causing immense hardship and
insecurity for the displaced residents,” the statement said.
The further urged the military to reconsider the composition of the Board by transferring the responsibility of investigation to an independent body capable of ensuring a fair and impartial process.
“We also call upon the Delta State government to intervene and facilitate the safe return of Okuama residents to their homes, provide necessary humanitarian assistance, and address the root causes of the conflict.
“The Urhobo Progress Union, Youth Wing Worldwide and the Urhobo Youths Leaders Association, stands firmly by its decision not to participate in the military-led Board of Inquiry unless the aforementioned conditions are met,” the youths stated.
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  1. I want to appreciate the Urhobo Youths for standing tall and tall when the issue of our land comes on board. God bless you all.

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