By Enyeribe Ejiogu, Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Molly Kilete, Romanus Ugwu, Ndubuisi Orji (Abuja), Rose Ejembi (Makurdi), John Adams (Minna), Sola Ojo (Kaduna), Priscilla Ediare (Ado-Ekiti), Stanley Uzoaru (Owerri), Paul Osuyi (Asaba), Chijioke Agwu (Abakaliki), Laide Raheem (Abeokuta),
The body of late Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, who perished in the ill-fated Nigerian Air Force plane, which crashed in Kaduna on Friday, was laid to rest yesterday in Abuja. He was buried at exactly 4:45 pm.
Also buried were the bodies of the three Brigadier-Generals, namely, Ahmed Kuliya, O.L Olayinka and M.I Abdulkadir, two Majors N. Hamza and L.A Hayat, two Flight Lieutenants, two Sergeants and one Aircraft Man, who died in the same crash.
The bodies of the deceased were conveyed from Kaduna to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in a C-130 aircraft and were received by Service Chiefs and top military officers. The bodies were then conveyed to the church and mosque respectively for the Christian and Muslim for funeral prayers.
After the funeral services, the bodies were then moved to the National Military Cemetery.
Burial ceremony started with the arrival of the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari; the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, very senior retired and serving officers and former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General ubuike Ihejirika. Others who were present were Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba. Also in attendance were Lt. General Dambazau; Kaduna State governor Nasir el-Rufai, presidents of the Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA), Nigerian Officers Wives Association (NAFOWA) and Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA).
In his address on the occasion, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Irabor, said the officers died as a result of their love for the country. He said their deaths would not be in vain. He assured that the war on insecurity must be won. He described the late COAS as “not just a fine officer but one with passion, very professional, had love for the job and a very dependable colleague.”
He assured the families of the deceased that the armed forces, the Federal Government and the Nigerian nation would not abandon them.
Also speaking, the Minister of Defence, Magashi, said the demise of the COAS and the other officers was a huge blow to the nation, but assured of government’s continuous support to the officers and men of the military and their families.
Meanwhile, a torrent of condolence messages have continued to pour in as governors and other notable Nigerians expressed shock and grief over the tragic demise of COAS Attahiru and the other members of his entourage and the four-man crew of the military aircraft.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, expressed sadness over the death of the Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and the other military officers in an air crash.
His words: “Their death while in active service in the defense of our country reflects the depth of sacrifice our military officers, men and women of the other ranks are often prepared to make.
“We honour the service of the Army Chief and all those involved in this unfortunate accident even as we continue to demonstrate our profound appreciation to all in our military services and in harm’s way. The gallantry of these heroes would always be remembered.
“I join the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to commiserate with families, friends and colleagues of these gallant officers and men who died in the crash. I pray that God grants them the fortitude to bear the loss. May the memories of the departed remain ever blessed.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mustapha, and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), have described death of Lt. Gen. Attahiru and 10 other senior military officers and service member, as shocking.
In a statement by the Director, Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, the cabinet members noted that COAS was passionate and professional in the discharge of the responsibilities of his office especially the prosecution of internal security operations across the country, since his appointment in January 2021.
Imo State governor Hope Uzodimma in a condolence letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, described the late COAS as among the best, a true officer and gentleman who epitomised the finest qualities of the Nigerian Army.
“Indeed to lose such a gallant general whose services to the nation had just reached its peak is most disheartening. It is even more heartrending, when he was tragically sent to the world beyond with other officers on the same day,” Uzodimma said.
Similarly, former military administrator of Delta State (rtd), Air Commodore Luke Ochulor, noted that the late COAS died when he was mostly needed, adding that the nation would miss him.
Governor of the State of Osun, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola, on his verified Twitter handle and Facebook page commiserated with President Buhari and the families of the deceased and urged Nigerians not to mourn like unbelievers.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State who also commiserated with President Buhari and the Nigerian Army, described the tragic death of Attahiru as “deeply saddening.”
The governor also condoled with the deceased’s Doka community, the people of Kaduna North Local Government Area and Kaduna State government over the tragedy.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Ebonyi State governor Dave Umahi described the COAS’s death as not only a colossal loss, but a national calamity. He called on Nigerians to pray for the repose of the souls of the late Army Chief and other gallant members of the Armed Forces who died in the plane crash. He urged the Federal Government to immediately commence investigation into the matter.
Similarly, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, said he was saddened by catastrophic crash that claimed the lives of Lt. General Attahiru and the other members of his entourage, saying their demise was a colossal loss to the nation.
He recalled how Attahiru visited the Government House, Port Harcourt, and with clarity articulated his vision and strategy to end insurgency in the country.
In his condolence message, Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, said the death of the COAS and the other very senior officers was a major setback to the fight against insecurity in the country. Ortom posited that the late COAS demonstrated commitment to tackling the wave of insecurity since his assumption of office earlier this year.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) described Attahiru as a “gallant soldier that served Nigeria with honour and dignity. The party in a statement signed by the National Secretary, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, James Akpanudoedehe, said that it was in deep shock over the demise of the COAS, which it described as a great national loss.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, demanded an extensive probe into the plane crash that killed, Lt General Attahiru and 10 others, as well as other air mishaps involving military officers, in recent times.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was grieved by the death of the COAS and other officers in the military plane crash on Friday.
The party described “Attahiru and the other officers as heroes who gave their lives for the security of our nation,” adding that the tragic incident was a huge blow to Nigeria.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. General Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd), in a statement by NDLEA’s Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, said that the death of Attahiru was a great loss to the country. Marwa, who sent his condolence message from Vienna, Austria, where he is attending a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, recalled his recent meeting with Gen. Attahiru, saying that he was impressed with the late army chief’s plans for tackling the security challenges confronting the country.
Also grieving over the death of Attahiru and members of his entourage, the National Rescue Movement (NRM), said: “The death of these gallant soldiers is most regrettable, especially considering the height of insecurity in the land and ongoing efforts of the Lt. General Attahiru’s led army, to contain same, since his assumption of office a few months ago as the Chief of Army Staff.”
NRM called for a thorough investigation into the incident, to unravel the circumstances that resulted in the painful national disaster in order to forestall future occurrence.
The North Central Governor’s Forum in a statement by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, described the plane crash which claimed the lives of Attahiru and the other senior officers who perished with him as “not only worrisome but a great set back to the nation at this trying moment of security challenges bedeviling the nation.”
Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, while condoling the President Buhari, and the bereaved families, said: “These accomplished officers died while their services were most needed in the nation’s search for peace and security. They served meritoriously in the military and their untimely exit is very painful.”
Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, who also condoled the family of Attahiru, described him as a “patriotic and fearless officer who was always ready to go the extra mile to protect the sovereignty of his beloved country, a quality that was the hallmark of his military career.”
Members of the House of Representatives called for a thorough probe of the air crash that claimed the life Attahiru, while urging the government to immortalise him by intensifying the war against insurgency.
The minority caucus, in a statement by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, described the late Attahiru and the other officers involved in the crash as “very courageous and patriotic soldiers, who gave all in the defence of our dear fatherland. Our caucus calls for a system-wide investigation into the cause of the crash as well as the last two crashes of our military planes which also led to the loss of lives of our gallant and promising officers.”
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, said the demise of the officers was a colossal loss to the country while the Chairman, House Committee on Army, Abdulrasak Namdas, described the deceased COAS as “an energetic officer, who was committed to improving the security of the country, especially prosecuting the war against insurgency.”