Via - Tribune
Tears flew freely at the Military burial ground, Abuja, on Thursday, when the remains of two officers and 13 soldiers who paid the supreme price in the ongoing prosecution of the state of emergency in the Northern-eastern part of the country and the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Dafur, Sudan, were laid to rest.
Families and friends of the deceased, including those present, could not hold back tears as the fallen heroes were given full military and national honour for their sacrifices to ensure that peace reigns in Nigeria and the African Region.
The two officers are; Major A.T. Fambiya and Major Abdullahi Kanoma while the soldiers include; SSGT Keku Adebayo, CPL Ahmed Usman, CPL Mathew Ade, LCPL Adamu Ibrahim, LCPL Suleiman Gimba, LCPL Salisu Sadauki, LBDR Usman David, LCPL Ajani Olosola, PTE Zakariya Dauda, PTE Daniel Kantoma, PTE Nya Bassey, PTE Bassey Emmanuel, and PTE Enyenihi Effiong.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who recalled the need to declare a state of emergency in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, urged the families of the deceased to take solace in the fact that the country was winning the war against insurgents and terrorists.
“Indeed, for us all, the loss is taste of regret but we take solace in the fact that we are winning the war, they shall rest in peace knowing that, as members of the Armed Forces, you must know that the military profession is a hazardous job and in conflicts like this, there are bound to be casualty, including death. Rather than despair and lose focus of our objective, it is incumbent on us to respect and honour the dead by giving them a befitting burial while we keep strategising to defeat the enemy.
“On several occasions and in different fora, I have reiterated the commitment of this administration to strengthening and improving on the nation’s security capability to enable us to confront challenges of the 21st century. As a result, this administration has steadfastedly evolved and implemented policies and measures to tackle the country’s current developmental challenges, especially, the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
“Accordingly and in order to face the threat headlong, I declared emergency in three northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on May 14, 2013, thus the Chief of Defence Staff was mandated to deploy troops in these states to take all necessary actions within the ambit of their rule of engagement to end the impunity of insurgents and terrorists. Today, we are here to lay to rest two officers and 13 soldiers who gallantly paid the supreme price as a result of this declaration. I want to reiterate that their sacrifices shall not and will never be in vain,” the President represented by Vice President, Namadi Sambo, stated.
He assured the families of the deceased that the nation would not forget the sacrifices of their loved ones, promising that their entitlements would be duly paid.
“To the families of the deceased, gallant officers and soldiers, I want to assure you that our country will not forget you in this trying time. I have conferred with the Chief of Defence Staff, COAS, and I want to also assure you that all settlements due +to you shall be promptly settled. All other welfare issues shall also be duly taken care of, remember that your loss is also the nation’s loss, be comforted that your departed ones are resting in the bosom of the Lord, may the Almighty grant you the fortitude to bear the loss,” President Jonathan told the families of the departed.
Minister for State for Defence, Olusola Obada, also commended the selflessness with which the departed officers and soldiers carried out their duties.
“Their death, though in line of duty, was a gallant sacrifice for peace to reign in our dear nation. Members of the Armed Forces and the Nigeria nation will not forget the gallant efforts of these great men who proudly showcased the great spirit and tenacity required to save our nation from destructive elements.
“We must, therefore, see their death as a call to duty to serve humanity and not to let the sacrifices be in vain as we continue to confront the present challenges, we must emulate the selflessness, courage and commitment exhibited by these men.
“At times like this, words of comfort will be difficult to console or completely heal your losses, my appeal to you is to take solace in God who is the greatest comforter. We will stand by you to mitigate whatever hardship their death will bring,” the minister said.
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ihejirika, who explained that many of the fallen heroes died in the North-east, also noted that for paying the supreme sacrifice, ‘these courageous officers and soldiers have made all of us proud as Nigerians.”
“As we all know, the military profession is a hazardous one and in any armed conflict, casualties are bound to occur, some of which may result in the supreme sacrifice. Therefore, when it occured, it was incumbent upon us all to honour and accord our departed colleagues the highest and last solemn respect.
“Today, we are laying to rest 15 heroes, comprising two officers and 13 soldiers who paid supreme in the service of our dear nation. Many of these heroes lost their lives in the North-east, three lost their lives in operation in other parts of the North and one died while serving on peace keeping mission with the United Nations Mission in Dafur, Sudan,” he stated.
“They were outstanding throughout their careers with much sense of responsibility, doggedness and commitment to duty and global peace. Let me say that for paying the supreme sacrifice, these courageous officers and soldiers have made all of us proud as Nigerians. Undeniably, the gallantry and high sense of functionality displayed by these gentlemen have contributed to the restoration of peace and normalcy to most parts of Northern Nigeria, particularly, the North-eastern part.
“It is, therefore, our resolve that the labour of these fallen heroes shall never be in vain. We will remain spurred by their zeal and gallant efforts to ensure that terrorism and insurgency are defeated so that our country can enjoy the much desired peace and progress,” the COAS stressed.
To families, he said;
“For the families of the departed colleagues here, along with those whose wards have been buried earlier in accordance with Muslim rites, I know that no amount of compensation can replace the lives of these gallant heroes, we share with you all this moment of grief and we will do everything possible to assuage the sense of loss.
“Let me assure you that the Nigerian Army will ensure the next of kin of these deceased get all their deserved benefits and timely too. It is said that every soul shall taste death, these officers and soldiers have bound to mother earth, certainly, this is monumental loss to their families, the Nigerian Army and Armed Forces and other security agencies and our dear country, Nigeria. We take solace in the fact that they lost their lives in order that Nigerians and Nigeria will continue to enjoy peace and freedom.”
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, warned those who were bent on destabilising the country to beware of the Armed Forces readiness to ensure the peace and protection of the nation’s territorial integrity at all cost.
“While we take solace in the fact that their death will not be in vain, what we are doing here today is a warning signal to those terrorists and all persons seeking to destabilise and undermine the corporate existence and territorial integrity of Nigeria that Nigeria, especially our Armed Forces, are willing and capable of safeguiding the nation, even at the cost of their lives.
“To the families of our departed officers and soldiers, members of the Armed Forces and the entire nation share in your loss and grief. Be rest assured that the nation appreciates the great sacrifices of your loved ones. Their colleagues have assured us that they will ensure that their deaths are not in vain and they will continue with vigour to solve the problem at hand, especially the one that led to the loss of these gallant officers and soldiers.” he said.
Pastor Aliyu Joshua, who spoke on behalf of the bereaved families, thanked the Armed Forces for the honour accorded their loved ones but also called for investigations into the remote causes of the death.