• en

Tinubu Honours Sacrifice Of Slain Soldiers, Pledges Support For Families And Justice For Perpetrators

Tinubu has urged the Okuama Community to cooperate in bringing the murderers of 17 military officers to justice.

President Bola Tinubu has announced the conferment of national honours on 18 members of the Nigerian Army who were killed in Delta State on March 14.

Tinubu, who spoke at the burial of the 18 slain military personnel, also awarded scholarships, up to the university level, to all their children, including the unborn, and promised to provide a house for each of the families in any part of the country they desired.

The president warned that the killers of the servicemen will not go unpunished, and urged leaders of Okuama community to fish out killers of the military personnel.

He warned military personnel not to carry out any reprisal in Okuama or its neighbouring communities, saying, “We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuama are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them.”

He also urged the military not to let the death of their compatriots discourage them.

The governors of Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states attended the burial. Others in attendance included service chiefs, ministers and families of the slain military personnel, whose remains were interred with full military honours and the traditional 21-gun salute.

Speaking at the burial ceremony at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja, Tinubu also directed the payment of death benefits to the family members of the slain servicemen within 90 days.

The president posthumously conferred the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) on the Commanding Officer 181 Amphibious Battalion, Lt. Col. A.H Ali; Maj S.D Shafa (N/13976); Maj D.E Obi (N/14395); and Capt U Zakari (N/16348).

He conferred the honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) on SSgt Yahaya Saidu (#3NA/36/2974); Cpl Yahaya Danbaba (1ONA/65/7274); Cpl Kabiru Bashir (11NA/66/9853); LCpl Bulus Haruna (16NA/TS/5844); LCpl Sola Opeyemi (17NA/760719); LCpl Bello Anas (17NA/76/290); LCpl Hamman Peter (NA/T82653); LCpl Ibrahim Abdullahi (18NA/77/1191); Pte Alhaji Isah (17NA/76/6079); Pte Clement Francis (19NA/78/0911); Pte Abubakar Ali (19NA/78/2162); Pte Ibrahim Adamu (19NA/78/6079); and Pte Adamu Ibrahim (21NA/80/4795).

Tinubu, while expressing sadness at the death of the fallen heroes, said, “It is with heavy heart that I join you today to commit to earth, the remains of our officers and men, who died in the course of duty on 14 March 2024 in Okuama community, Delta State.

“The officers and soldiers, who lost their lives that day were patriots, brave and noble men, who gave their lives to defend and protect our nation against internal and external threats. Their sacrifice will be remembered and honoured for generations to come.

“On March 14, Lt. Colonel A. H. Ali, the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion, led three other officers and 13 soldiers to the Okuama community to mediate in the lingering dispute with Okoloba community.

“They went as peace makers and peace keepers respectfully seeking to bring an end to the hostilities between the two communities.  They didn’t go with tanks, machine guns and other weapons. They were on a mission of peace.

“Before the dastardly attack, Lt. Colonel Ali, as the Chief of Army Staff briefed me, enjoyed great operational exploits; fighting terrorists and insurgents in the North-east and North-west before his deployment to the Niger Delta.”

The president said Ali kept faith with his military calling till the end.

He stated, “On behalf of a grateful nation, we honour the sacrifice of Ali and the other gallant patriots who died that day. They will forever be remembered as heroes who answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price.

“Each man now belongs to the hallowed list of servicemen and women, who defended our country and protected their fellow Nigerians, not minding the risk to their own lives.

“They have all been awarded posthumous national honours. The four gallant officers have been accorded the Award of Member of the Order of Niger (MON). The 13 courageous soldiers who also lost their lives have been awarded the Federal Republic (FRM) medal.

“I commiserate with the families of our fallen heroes and the entire armed forces. I share in the pain and grief you carry today. It is my prayer that God will comfort all, who are bereaved as a result of this tragedy.

“It is worth restating the debt of gratitude we owe these valiant soldiers and their families.”

Tinubu also affirmed, “As Commander-in-Chief, I do not take the contributions of members of our armed forces for granted. I recognise your valour and bravery. I honour your unflinching commitment to making our country safe from criminals, bandits, kidnappers and insurrectionists.

“While we continue to grieve for the courageous men we lost that day, let us also, on this solemn occasion, be reminded of the unfinished business of working for peace and harmony in our communities.”

He maintained, “We must begin to rebuild our communities and make them into places where love, tolerance and harmony will reign. Leaders at all levels, especially community leaders and traditional rulers, must work to strengthen the bonds that unite us. We must end the cycle of violence and bloodletting.

“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. The elders and chiefs of Okuama also have a duty to help the military in fishing out the gunmen, who committed the barbaric crime against our men.

“I wish to also commend our armed forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisal in Okuama or its neighbouring communities. We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuama are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them.

“To the entire armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have a message for you: Do not let the death of your compatriots discourage you. There is no higher honour than the vocation you have chosen to pursue.

“We cherish you. We cherish your labour of love. We salute your daily sacrifice in protecting your fellow citizens from danger. We acknowledge your sacrifices to defend our nation.”

Tinubu stated that within the continent, “Our sub-region and across the world, the Nigerian military has remained a force for good, embodying a great example and keeping our democracy safe. It is now our duty to protect the families of our departed heroes.”

He said the federal government would provide a house in any part of the country for each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers and approved scholarships for all the children of the deceased up to the University level.

“The military must, within the next 90 days, ensure that all the benefits of the departed are paid to their families. May the families of the departed and all their loved ones find the strength to bear the pain of this loss. May God grant our heroes eternal rest,” he said.

Deji Elumoye and Kingsley Nwezeh

Follow us on: