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Delta 17: Tinubu, Govs Pay Final Respects As Military Buries Gallant Soldiers

With the conclusion of the rites, inconsolable family members of the fallen heroes observed the dust-to-dust ritual, saying painful last goodbyes to their loved ones and breadwinners.


Slain military personnel buried at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

It was an emotional evening on Wednesday as grieving families and friends of 17 gallant military personnel gruesomely murdered in Delta State laid wreaths in honour of the slain officers and soldiers.

After the wreath laying ceremony, tears freely flowed as the white caskets draped in sparkling green-white-green Nigerian colours which housed the lifeless bodies of the valiant military personnel were lowered into the earth at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.

With the clerics done with the rites, inconsolable and teary-eyed family members of the fallen heroes observed the dust-to-dust ritual, saying painful last goodbyes to their loved ones and breadwinners.

 

Grieving families of the military personnel pay final respects

 

President Bola Tinubu, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the inauspicious occasion, led governors, federal lawmakers, military top brass, dignitaries, and others to pay final respects to the fallen heroes murdered by vicious criminals on March 14, 2024 when the men in uniform were on a peace mission to warring Okuama and Okoloba communities in the area.

 

 

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, and Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla were present to pay final respects to the fallen heroes.

Also, the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas led members of the both upper and lower chambers to honour the slain military personnel.

 

Bodies of slain military personnel arrived the National Military Cemetery, Abuja for burial on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

 

Governors Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), Duoye Diri (Bayelsa), Usman Ododo (Kogi), Uba Sani (Kaduna), Hope Uzodimma (Imo), AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq (Kwara), and Abba Yusuf (Kano) were present to honour the slain military personnel.

 

Governors at the burial

 

The President joined the solemn assembly at exactly 04:10pm to honour the gallantry of the men who paid the supreme price.

After the opening processions, prayers, laying of military accoutrements on caskets that housed the remains of the slain soldiers, and the sound of the bugle,  Lt-General Lagbaja mourned the “gallant heroes”, saying it is highly demoralising that the citizens the soldiers tried to protect ended up killing them.

 

Soldiers killed in Okuama, Delta State

 

The 17 personnel — the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion, two majors, one captain, and 12 personnel of the battalion — were buried at 6 pm after funeral rites.

 

COAS Assures Pregnant Widows, Families Of Support

The COAS described the killing of the soldiers as “most barbaric”, saying it took 72 hours after the unfortunate incident to recover the mutilated bodies of the slain soldiers.

 

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja, at the burial of 17 slain soldiers on March 27, 2024, in Abuja

 

Lt-General Lagbaja reiterated the Army’s commitment to bringing perpetrators of the heinous crime to book and recover all missing weapons.

He said three of the widows of the slain soldiers are pregnant. He assured the families of the fallen soldiers of maximum support from the Nigerian Army.

 

 

He said, “The Okuoma killing has added to the care of the Nigerian Army and by extension, the Nigerian State, 10 widows, three of whom are four, five and eight months pregnant, 21 orphans, and many other dependents which include parents.

“While commiserating with the families of these gallant soldiers, I assure them that the Nigerian Army and the good people of this country will not leave them in the cold.”

Grieving families of the military personnel pay final respects

‘We Will Hunt You Down’

On his part, General Musa vowed that the military would hunt down the perpetrators of the heinous act and bring them to justice.

“To the perpetrators of this violence, who seek to sow divisions among our people, take this from me – our resolve will not wither, we will hunt you down, we will bring you to justice and we will restore peace and security in every nook and cranny of our dear nation.

“Your evil actions may cause pain and suffering but they will never extinguish the spirit of unity and resilience that burns within us,” the CDS said.

To the slain soldiers, he said: “We will honour your memory by continuing to fight those who seek to undermine our peace and security. We will remain steadfast in our resolve to build a nation worthy of your sacrifice. This sacrifice will not go in vain.”

 

President Bola Tinubu at the burial of 17 slain soldiers in Abuja on March 27, 2024. Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

‘National Awards, Scholarships, Houses’

President Bola Tinubu, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, led governors, federal lawmakers, military top brass, and dignitaries to lay wreaths in honour of the slain officers and soldiers.

The President assured the families of the soldiers of maximum support. The President approved scholarships for all children of the slain soldiers, including those in the womb. He also approved houses for families of the deceased military personnel in any part of Nigeria. The President gave the military 90 days to pay all benefits to the families of the slain officers and soldiers.

Tinubu said, “They have all been awarded now a posthumous national honour. The four gallant officers have been accorded the awards of the Members of the Order of Nigeria (MON), The 13 courageous soldiers who also lost their lives have been awarded the Officers of the Federal Republic medals.”

While commiserating with the families of the slain military personnel, the President said the government’s resolve to hunt down the perpetrators will not wither.

“They won’t go unpunished. We will find them and our departed heroes will get justice,” the President vowed.

 

Last Journey

The slain military personnel responded to a distress call after a communal land dispute when they were gruesomely murdered.

 

The beheaded corpses of the slain soldiers were later recovered from a neigbouring river, while the stomachs and hearts of others were ripped off.

The gruesome murder has continued to draw condemnation from authorities in Nigeria. Tinubu had described it as an attack on the nation and gave marching orders to security agencies to fish out the masterminds of the attack.

 

 

The Senate, the host governor as well as civil society organisations have condemned the gruesome murder of the soldiers and called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.