The eleven soldiers killed by bandits in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State last week were buried yesterday amid wailing by relations.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who was the chief mourner, said officers and men of the Army could not be rightly said to be aiding those who kill them.
The 11 soldiers were killed while at a camp in a community in Birnin Gwari where they were on an operation.
Buratai said the soldiers who came into the army barely one year ago had paid the supreme price in service of their country.
Represented by the General Commanding Officer, 1 Division, Nigerian Army Kaduna, Major General Muhammad Muhammad, Buratai said, “Most of them had not come back to their relations and say this is my uniform before they met their death. They shed their blood for the community of Birnin Gawri and Kaduna State. How then can we say they are aiding those who killed them? If we are making statements, we should not generalize.”
While condoling with the families of the deceased soldiers, the COAS advised Nigerians not to dissuade their children from joining the armed forces, saying, “It is a way of giving back to the country.”
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Lawal Balarabe, donated N500, 000 each to the families of the 11 slain soldiers and presented the cheque of N5.5m to the GOC 1 Division Nigerian Army for onward presentation to the families.
The slain officers were Private Olabode Hammed enlisted into the army in 2015, Bamidele Adekunke Emmanuel (Osun), Owhochukwu Christian Chigoziri (Rivers), Adamu Muhammed (Bauchi), Lamara Ahmed (Jigawa), Mubarack Suleiman (Plateau), Private Bashir Sani (Katsina), Usman Abubakar Jalo (Gombe), Nafiyi Iliyasu (Jigawa), Sefiyanu Ahmed (Jigawa) and Alhassan Ibrahim (Jigawa state), all of them private and enlisted into the 76th Regular Recruit Intake last year.
They were laid to rest at the Commonwealth Cemetery in Kaduna with a 21-gun salute.
The relations of the 11 soldiers could not hold back their tears. One of the relations to one of the slain soldiers Private Christian Chigoziri Owhochukwu, said it was not his decision to allow his younger brother to join the army.
“I was forced to allow his getting into the army due to financial constraint, said Mr. Owhochukwu Franklin, Christian Chigoziri’s elder brother.
Another relation who gave his name as Sani Liman Kila, related to Kamara Ahmed, said the late Kamara died barely two months after he passed out from the Nigerian Army depot.
“He was a hard working young man. It is very sad that he was killed in this manner. He spent only one day at the place he was posted. It is very shocking. We are devastated,” he said.
Another relation, a father, Sani Abdullahi Funtua, said, “I lost my son, Bashir Sani. I am deeply pained by his death. I pray that God will grant him Aljannah Firdausi.”
Speaking with journalists after the burial of his brother who died along the 10 other soldiers on 20th March, 2018 in the Birnin Gwari LGA during Exercise Ayem Akpotuma, Mr. Franklin described his brother as a humble and strong boy, saying, “He is my younger brother, a very respectful boy whom I loved so much.”
He also said, “It was not my decision for him to join the army. Somebody came to my house and begged me to allow him. I told the person that because of his brilliance, irrespective of some challenges I was having in terms of sending him to school, I wanted him to attend a higher institution.
“The issue came up and the army was enlisting recruits for its regular recruit intake. I was forced to allow him join the army so that he could start from somewhere and make progress. Little did I know that it would lead to his early death. I gave him all the fatherly and financial support he needed because we are orphans. Both our parents passed away and he was left in my care.”