In a poignant evening ceremony on Wednesday, families and companions of 17 courageous military personnel, tragically slain in Delta State, gathered to bid their final farewells and honor the fallen heroes.
Following a solemn wreath-laying ceremony, tears flowed freely as the gleaming green-white-green draped caskets, bearing the lifeless bodies of the valiant soldiers, were tenderly lowered into the earth at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.
With heartfelt prayers offered and clerical rites concluded, grieving family members participated in the solemn dust-to-dust ritual, bidding painful last goodbyes to their cherished loved ones and providers.
President Bola Tinubu, serving as the Special Guest of Honour, led a host of dignitaries including governors, federal lawmakers, and military top brass in paying their final respects to the fallen heroes, whose lives were cruelly taken by ruthless criminals during a peace mission to the Okuama village on March 14, 2024.
The presence of high-ranking officials such as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Christopher Musa, and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja, underscored the nation’s solidarity in honoring the sacrifice of these brave soldiers.
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.
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.
Presidential Presence
In a poignant gesture, President Tinubu arrived precisely at 4:10 PM to pay homage to the gallantry of the fallen soldiers. Following poignant processions, prayers, and military honors, COAS Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja mourned the loss of the “gallant heroes,” expressing dismay that those they sought to protect turned against them.
The 17 personnel, including the Commanding Officer of the 181 Amphibious Battalion, two majors, one captain, and 12 battalion personnel, were laid to rest after sunset, following solemn funeral rites.
Chief of Defence Staff Pledges To Hunt Down Perpetrators Of Heinous Crime
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.
COAS Lagbaja assured the families of the fallen soldiers of unwavering support, particularly highlighting the plight of the widows, some of whom are pregnant.
He said three of the widows of the slain soldiers are pregnant. He assured the families of the fallen soldiers of maximum supports 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 gallants soldiers, I assure them that the Nigerian Army and the good people of this country will not leave them in the cold.”
He reaffirmed the Nigerian Army’s commitment to apprehending the perpetrators and recovering missing weapons.
General Musa echoed these sentiments, vowing to hunt down the perpetrators and restore peace and security to every corner of the nation.
“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 you sacrifice. This sacrifice will not go in vain.”
Presidential Support: National Awards, Scholarships, Houses’
President Tinubu, in a gesture of national solidarity and support, announced scholarships and housing assistance for the families of the slain soldiers, alongside posthumous national honors.
The President assured the families of the soldiers of maximum support. The President approved scholarship 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\
Courtesy, Channels TV
President Bola Tinubu
 Condemnation and Demands
The gruesome murder has continued to draw condemnation from authorities in Nigeria. Tinubu described it as an attack on the nation and gave marching orders to security agencies to fish out the masterminds of the attack. The President also said the slain military personnel will be conferred with national honours.
The Senate, the host as well as civil society organisations have condemned the gruesome murder of the soldiers and called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.