Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has denied a report from a US publication, the Wall Street Journal, that the Nigerian military is running secret grave sites where soldiers killed by Islamist terrorists in the North East are buried.
Director of Defence Information Colonel Onyema Nwachuku, who made this known in a statement, said that the rumour of secret graves comes from the “uninformed author” of a Wall Street Journal article, and those who do not wish the Nigerian military well.
Nwachuku said the Nigerian Armed Forces has a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of fallen heroes and does not indulge in secret burials, saying that it is sacrilegious and a profanity to the traditions of the Nigerian military.
“The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an online article by the ‘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,” Nwachuku stated.
“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 unambigously 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 the ‘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.”