The mood was somber, as families and relations wore long faces when confronted with the gory sight of caskets bearing the remains of some 11 gallant soldiers, who paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of their fatherland in Kaduna.
The young soldiers, all privates, never had the benefits of visiting their families after their first major training as certified military men before proceeding on the national assignment.
This formed a major regret for the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who vowed that the gruesome killing of these heroes shall not be in vain.
The soldiers were ambushed and killed by bandits on March 20, in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state, while on operation ‘Ayem Akpatuma.’
They include; Bamidele Adekunle, Christain Oguchukwu, Adam Muhammad, Sulaiman Mubarak, Bashir Sani, Usman Abubakar, Nafi’u Iliyasu, Safiyanu Ahmad, Alhassan Ibrahim and Adegunde Emmanuel, who all enlisted into the army in 2017. Also among the deceased was Hammed Olubode, who enlisted in 2015.
They were all buried amid full military honour at the Commonwealth Cemetery, Kaduna.
Speaking at the solemn event, General Buratai, lamented that the vibrant soldiers died barely a year after they had sworn to serve the country.
He said: “As we speak, most of them have not gone back to their relations to say, this is the uniform of the military I joined. That is the sadness of this occasion. Now, they have paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence of the territorial integrity of this country.”
The army chief, who also regretted the decision of those questioning the loyalty of the military to the nation via their comments, said the deceased shed their blood to protect the nation from armed bandits.
A former Defence Minister, General Theophilus Y. Danjuma, had accused the military of aiding the killer-herdsmen, a statement that has continued to generate some reactions from across the nation.
In a veiled response to Danjuma’s comment, Buratai asked, “how then can we tell them that they are aiding those who killed them, that today they have paid with their lives to aid those who killed them?
“If we are responsible enough to make a statement, we should not generalise.”
Represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Major-General Muhammad Muhammad, the army chief recalled that the fallen heroes were trained for six months and drafted for another training to add value to them, but lost their lives in the course of duty.
He, however, assured that “their blood will not shed in vain. We, their colleagues who are still alive, will continue where they stopped; their memory will still be with us.”
As soldiers, Buratai declared, “we find ourselves as first respondents, we will not shy away from it, we will continue to do our duties diligently regardless of any shortcoming.”
While commiserating with the families of the deceased soldiers, he assured them of the commitment of the Army to keep the country one.
At the event, Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, announced a donation of N500, 000 to each family of the slain soldiers.
El-Rufa’i, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Lawal Balarabe, presented a cheque of N5.5 million to the GOC for onward transmission to families of the deceased soldiers.
Fresh Kaduna attack
Meanwhile, about six persons were, yesterday, killed in fresh but separate attacks in Bakin Kogi of Kaninkon chiefdom in Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna state.
The dastardly acts came some 24 hours after the state governor met and struck a peace deal with the Fulani leaders on lasting truce in the state.
The two attacks which occurred simultaneously between 10 and 11:00 a.m, were carried out by suspected herders. Blueprint gathered that the hoodlums, about eight in number, disguised and wore army and mobile police uniforms. While three of the victims were killed on the farm, others suffered similar fate at a mining site