Benin City, Nigeria, 2nd July 2015….The Oghara Centre for Justice and Development has noted with dismay certain statements credited to one Captain Umuakhalu, PRO of the 4 Mechanised Brigade of the Nigerian Army, against the Oghara Centre for Justice and Development carrying out a peaceful protest against the extra-judicial killing of Benson Ogedegbe in Oghara in Delta State. If the unfortunate statements were credited to a less an auspicious organisation other than the Nigerian army, perhaps we would have glossed over them as the antics of an irresponsible spin doctor eager to earn his pay. However, for the sake of the records and to put the sets of events that led to the dastardly murder of the local vigilante leader in focus, the Oghara Centre for Justice and development wishes to state as follows that:
Contrary to the insinuations of the army PRO that protesters against the dastardly killing of Benson Ogedegbe were violent, the Oghara Centre for Justice and Development soughtand got the permission of the Delta State Commissioner for Police to carry out a peaceful protest. The Police conducted the peaceful protest, but that was until the army showed up in their characteristic show of force and shoved the police aside. They mercilessly beat up, arrested and tortured several peaceful protesters. Captain Umuakhalu’s account, that the peaceful protesters were armed with dangerous implements like kerosene is irresponsible, unbecoming of a security outfit like the Nigerian army and a resort to cheap blackmail. The 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army should focus on investigating the death of Mr. Ogedegbe instead of relying on propaganda and cheap blackmail to try to discredit the peaceful protest carried out by the Oghara Centre for Justice and Development.As a body, we have a mandate of peaceful methods at conflict resolution, and at no time will a responsible body as ours resort to violence to resolve issues like that of the extra-judicial killing of Benson Ogedegbe. We are certain that lies like the ones being peddled on the pages of newspapers by the army PRO is a ploy to discredit the Oghara Centre for Justice and Development via informal methods.The Oghara Centre for Justice and Development refuses to be cowed or intimidated by the attempts being made by the army PRO to frame and discredit our organisation and what we stand for. The Army should tell the truth and try to free itself from this mess it has created instead of trying to blackmail, stifle and frame voices critical of its role in this sordid mess. We remain certain that the overbearing character of the military over this murder is fuelled by the need of the military to exert control over the illegal and thriving bunkering business in the Niger Delta.