The remains of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel who died on Friday’s plane crash in Kaduna have been buried in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with full military honours.
The Ngerian Air force NAF C-130 aircraft which conveyed the remains of the fallen heroes touched down around 10:50 am at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
As soon as the plane touched down, the bodies of the deceased officers were lifted into the waiting ambulances with military precision.
However, scores of journalists already on the ground were not allowed to take photographs as they were sent away by stern-looking security personnel.
The remains of the five Air Force officers involved in the ill-fated crash were then taken to the Protestant church, Airforce Base, Abuja while those of the late Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru and other Muslim officers were taken to the National Mosque in Abuja where funeral services and prayers were offered for them.
The brief and solemn funeral service earlier scheduled for the Christain Centre Abuja was held at the NAF Base for the officers who were all Christians. They included Brigadier-General Olayinka and other crew members: Flt Lt T.O Asaniyi, Flt Lt AA Olufade, Sgt Adesina, and ACM Oyedepo.
The solemn service began with an opening prayer by the presiding priest, Reverend Group Captain Dogo Gani, Director of Chaplaincy, NAF headquarters, who urged their family members not to be grieved but to take solace in the fact the officers died defending their fatherland.
Some of the wives and relatives of the deceased officers could not hold back their tears at the church service as they kept on wailing over the loss of their loved ones.
The service ended with the pallbearers moving the coffins out of the chapel for the burial ceremony at the National Military Cemetery, along Airport Road, Abuja.
Meanwhile, the remains of the Chief of Army Staff and other Muslim officers were at the National Mosque, Abuja.
Five ambulances conveying the bodies were received by military police officers and other dignitaries at the National Mosque where prayers were said for them in accordance with Islamic rites.
Wives of the fallen soldiers and family members were also at the mosque wearing black outfits and gloomy faces while the emotion-laden family members could not hold back their tears as they received the bodies of the fallen heroes
The remains of the deceased officers were later moved to the National Military Cemetary where they were interred after the traditional 21-gun salute.
In attendance were the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan; Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni; Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; the Minister of Defence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Inspector General of Police, Comptroller General of Immigration and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, amongst other serving and former public office holders, top military officers, families, friends and associates of the late officers.
The Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, Senator Kashim Shettima and Senator Abubakar Kyari joined top dignitaries and hundreds of sympathisers at the National Central Mosque for the jana’iza (funeral prayers).
In his comment, Governor Zulum said the late chief of staff was evidently committed to the fight against Boko Haram and was determined to significantly contribute to ending the insurgency.
According to him, “the commitment of the late chief of army staff to the fight against Boko Haram was very obvious. Within the short time he served, he had been to Borno on multiple occasions, meeting operational commanders and troops at battlefronts.
“In all his interactions, he regularly motivated troops. The people of Borno thank him and all our gallant fallen heroes for their unquantifiable service to Borno and the rest of Nigeria.”
The late chief of army staff had since his appointment, been to Borno State more than six times to supervise the ongoing military operations against Boko Haram. He had visited different army formations, mobilise and motivated troops in front lines in peace building efforts.
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