No secret graveyards in North-east – DHQ

The Defence Headquarters has denied report in some section of the media alleging the military buried 1000 soldiers in secret graveyard in the war-torn North-eastern part of the country.

Defence spokesperson, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu , said this  in a statement Thursday in Abuja.

But former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said the claim should be probed to ascertain its veracity or otherwise. 

The Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)’s presidential candidate in the last election expressed “shock that such a thing could happen under a democracy, such as Nigeria is supposed to be.”

DHQ counters

However, the DHQ said  the report was the insinuation and could only emanate from an “uninformed position of the author of the said publication.”

The statement read: “The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay   an online article by ‘Wall Street Journal’ purporting that the Nigerian Military maintains secret graveyards in the North East theatre of operation. This insinuation can only emanate from an uninformed position of the author of the said publication. It therefore becomes necessary to inform the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of our fallen heroes.

“Therefore, it must be unambiguously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and a profanity to extant ethos and traditions of the Nigerian military.

“In tandem with the traditions of the Armed Forces, fallen heroes  are duly honoured and paid the last respect in befitting military funeral of international standard, featuring funeral parade, grave site oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites.

“The cemetery described in the publication, which is situated in Maimalari military Cantonment is an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the North-East theatre, with a Cenotaph erected in honour of our fallen heroes. The official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen heroes. It is therefore a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by “Wall Street Journal”.

“The Defence Headquarters therefore urges members of the Armed Forces and the general public to disregard such a misinformed publication and see it as a figment of the imagination of the writer, whose knowledge of military valued ethos and traditions is grossly misplaced.”

 Atiku wants probe

Notwithstanding the denial , former vice president Abubakar  has  asked for a judicial commission of inquiry headed by a non-partisan and reputable jurist to investigate an alleged secret burial of 1000 soldiers killed by Boko Haram and ISWAP.

In  a statement Thursday,  Abubakar expressed “shock that such a thing could happen under a democracy, such as Nigeria is supposed to be. I shudder to think that the cover-up of such an event of epic proportions can be true.

“The men and women of our armed forces are our first, second and last defence against our domestic and foreign enemies and should be treated with love, respect, dignity and appreciation for the invaluable service they render to Nigeria.”

“I cannot fathom that in the space of a year, 1000 of these great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told. I hesitate to believe that deceit on such a grand scale is even possible.

“To ensure that we get to the bottom of this matter, I urge that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a non-partisan and reputable jurist, be inaugurated to investigate the findings of the Wall Street Journal. While this is occurring, I also strongly urge that a panel of inquiry comprising distinguished former military officers be set up to investigate and report to Nigerians the true state of the war on terror and what must be done to ensure Nigeria brings a speedy end to the ongoing insurgency.

“Nigeria must ensure prudent use of finances, so we can redistribute national resources in such a way that ensures that our military and security forces are well armed and well remunerated.

“Even the death of one soldier affects me. But the alleged cover-up of the deaths of one thousand soldiers is a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria”.

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