Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai, during the burial of the Lt. Col. Mohammed Abu-ALI and five solders and a seaman in Abuja on Monday
By Joseph Erunke, with agency report
THE Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, wept yesterday, as he read the funeral oration at the graveside of the seven military men killed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The fallen troops are Lt.-Col. Muhammad Abu-Ali, Seargents Muazu Ibrahim, Bassey Okon, Hussani Jafaru, Cpl. Chukwu Simon, Private Salisu Lawal and Seaman Patrick Paul.
They died when the terrorists attempted to seize Mallam Fatori on November 4. The soldiers were inducted into the Operation Lafiya Dole in 2014, designed to fight the Boko Haram insurgents.
Buratai said: “They were brave, precise, professional and inspiring. They led the battle to recapture the following towns: Monguno, Baga, New Marte, Bama, Gwoza, Banki Junction, Gamboru-Ngala, Yale, Yanteke, Bita, Deruwa, Daira Kangaruwa and Mallam Fatori.
“In these battles, they rescued children and women, fathers and mothers, the young and the old and restored peace and hope to Nigerians.
“At last, on November 4, they paid the supreme sacrifice in the battle of Mallam Fatori.
“The deceased epitomised the very best of our military. They exemplified the values of our nation and the military which are loyalty, discipline, courage, selfless service, respect, honour and dignity.”
Buratai said the deceased fought for the unity of the nation, adding that “your labour will never be in vain.”
He promised that the army would take care of their dependents.
The President’s speech
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari, said the deceased had shown unalloyed commitment to the nation, saying “the selflessness of these gentlemen reinvigorates the memories of other great fallen heroes who stood firm in the defence of our dear nation and had to pay the supreme price in the ongoing fight against insurgency.
“Their sacrifices, patriotism and, indeed, gallantry would surely not go in vain. Nigerians will continue to remember their outstanding efforts in securing the territorial integrity of the country.
“The gallantry and high sense of professionalism displayed by these gentlemen are contributions to the restoration of peace or normalcy in the North-East.
“It is, therefore, our resolve that the labour of these fallen heroes shall never be in vain. We will work to ensure that terrorism and insurgency is defeated so that our country can enjoy the much-desired peace and progress.
“The efforts of the leadership of our Armed Forces as well as our security agencies and the support of all Nigerians towards a successful end to insurgency and other security threats in the country are commendable.
“I, therefore, use this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to the Armed Forces of Nigeria for a job well done. I further urge you not to relent in the efforts. It is said that every soul shall test death.
“The death of these officers and soldiers is certainly a monumental loss to their families, the Nigerian Army and indeed the entire nation. But we take solace in the fact that they did not die in vain; they lost their precious lives in order that Nigeria and Nigerians will continue to enjoy freedom.
“The people and government of Nigeria share this moment of great pain. Indeed, it is a very sorrowful moment, but please take solace in the fact that your breadwinners have brought honour and pride to our great nation, the military and families. To these gallant heroes, I say may your gentle souls rest in peace.”
The dignitaries that attended the funeral included the service chiefs, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, Ministers of Information and Culture; and Interior, Senators Ali Ndume, Dino Melaye and Phillip Aduda.
Also at the burial were the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, and wife of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki, among others.
The deceased were interred at about 5.55p.m. after all necessary military ceremonies.
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