Falana Condemns Killing of Soldiers in Delta, Criticizes Military’s Reprisal

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On Monday, human rights lawyer Femi Falana condemned the heinous killing of 16 military personnel in the Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State during a rescue mission last week.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, condemned the heinous act but also criticized the alleged reprisal by the military, emphasizing the importance of avoiding collective punishment. He highlighted past experiences in various regions of Nigeria and stressed the need for a measured response.

While appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, Falana expressed sympathy for the bereaved families of the slain soldiers.

However, he noted that the military authorities could have prevented a reprisal, citing the country’s past experiences in Zaki Biam, Gbaramatu, and other regions.

The incident, which occurred during a rescue mission in the Okuama community, shocked the nation. The soldiers, responding to a distress call amid communal tensions, were brutally attacked, with some of their bodies found mutilated.

Meanwhile,President Bola Tinubu, the Senate, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, along with civil society organizations, have denounced the gruesome murder of the soldiers, urging for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Over the weekend, enraged soldiers patrolling the creeks reportedly razed the village in retaliation for their fallen colleagues, prompting residents of the coastal community to flee to neighboring Ughelli.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Urges Governors to Prioritize Governance Over Political Differences

Falana’s stance against collective punishment resonates deeply, as he cited both domestic laws and international conventions such as the Geneva Convention.

“Falana said those arrested should be handed over to the police and arraigned immediately as this action would have doused tension in the coastal village.He faulted the idea collective punishment, saying that it contravened the Geneva Convention and other international laws which Nigeria is a signatory to.”

“There are innocent people in Okuama who are as angry as the government in ensuring that the criminal elements are brought to justice but when you go and set their houses on fire and attack innocent people, you have offended domestic laws because it is right in our country that there is no vicarious liability in criminality.”

“Nigeria domesticated the Geneva Convention in 1960 and under Article 33 of the the Geneva Convention, collective punishment is prohibited. Innocent people cannot be attacked, even in a war situation,” he said.

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