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Nigerian Army Lays to Rest 17 Slain Personnel in a Solemn Ceremony

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… As Tinubu confers National Honours on Heroes, Scholarships to Children

ABUJA: It was a sombre atmosphere at the National Military Cemetery Abuja as the remains of 17 personnel killed in active duty by youths of Okuama Community in Delta State, were laid to rest at an elaborate yet solemn ceremony.

Families, loved ones could not hold back tears as the pall bearers matched on with in a carefully choreographed pattern, a hallmark of Military’s highest honours to fallen heroes who died in active service.

Speaking at the event, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Bola Ahmed Tinubu noted that the slain officers and soldiers were peace makers and peace keepers respectfully seeking to bring an end to hostilities between the two communities.

Reaffirming the government’s commitment to justice, President Tinubu vowed to bring the perpetrators to account.

While commending the military for not embarking on a reprisal attack on the community, the President declared: “I want to make it clear once more, that those who committed this heinous crime will not go unpunished. We will find them, and our departed heroes will get justice “

President Tinubu announced a posthumous National Honours on the 17 fallen heroes. The four officers were granted Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) while the soldiers got the Federal Republic Medals.

The President while directing the military authorities to ensure that benefits of the departed are paid to their families within 90 days, announced a scholarship package up to University level for the children including the unborn, of the slain personnel.

Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, General CG Musa emphasized the nation’s resolve to continue the fight against those who threaten peace and security, vowing to build a nation worthy of the soldiers’ sacrifice.

“They were the vanguards of peace, the guardians of our freedom, and the sentinels of our security,”

General Musa also expressed gratitude to the men and women who continue to serve in the armed forces, recognizing their dedication to defending the nation. He issued a stern warning to the perpetrators of violence, stating, “Our resolve will not waver. We will hunt you down, bring you to justice, and restore peace and security to every nook and cranny of our dear nation.”

General Musa called on the nation to honour the memory of the fallen by working towards a peaceful, prosperous, and secure Nigeria.

The Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja has said that the killings of 17 of the Nigerian Army’s finest men, who were gruesomely murdered in a reprehensible manner on 14 March 2024 in the Okuama community of Delta State while they went on a legitimate peace-making mission by the very people they are trained, equipped, and took an oath to protect, is highly demoralizing.

The Army Chief while speaking in a sober mood noted that military profession deals with matters of life and death said when soldiers die in the hands of the enemies of the State, we take it as dying for what the nation has considered a just cause; we celebrate them as gallant heroes.

“It grieves my heart that it took our search and recovery effort over 72 hours to recover some vital organs of the decapitated and disemboweled bodies of my men that were scattered all over the Okuama community by the community youths and their friends.

“I consider it the most barbaric act any citizen or community can commit against the authority of the state, and I must place on record that a lot of restraints have been exercised so far in our search and recovery efforts for missing arms, ammunition, other equipment, and body parts. ” he noted.

The ceremony featured prayers for the repose of the souls of the departed, laying of wreaths and the beating of the retreat.

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