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Abuja: 17 slain soldiers conferred with national honour




By Stephen Asaba-ase

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday made good his posthumous honour to the 17 military officers that were ambushed and killed in Okuama community of Delta State.

Tinubu described the fallen gallant officers as courageous, noble and patriotic and brave men of the Nigerian armed forces, adding that they would forever be remembered as heroes who answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price.

The fallen officers who got the posthumous honours from the Federal Government included Lieutenant Colonel Ali, Major D.E Obi, Major S.D. Ashafa, Captain U. Zakari, Staff Sergeant Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Danbaba Yahaya and Corporal Kabir Bashir.

Others are Lance Corporal Abdullahi Ibrahim, Lance Corporal Bulus Haruna, Lance Corporal Sole Opeyemi, Lance Corporal Bello Anas; Private Alhaji Isah,
Private Clement Francis, Private Abubakar Ali, Private Adamu Ibrahim, Private Hamman Peter, and Private Ibrahim Adamu.

The four officers were given the national honour or Member of the Order of Nigeria (MON) while 13 others were awarded the Officer of the Federal Republic Medal.

The president also gifted house and scholarships to the families of the fallen soldiers, aside the national merit awards

The troops of 181 Amphibious Battalion, Bomadi Local Government Delta State, were killed, while on a Peace mission as they were ambushed and killed by some irate Okuama youths in Delta State

Congress gathered that the troops were responding to a distress call following a communal crisis between the Okuama and Okoloba communities. The troops were led by Lt. Colonel A. H. Ali, the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion Bomadi local government Delta State.

Tinubu paid special tributes to Ali at the burial, recalling a brief conversation he had with the Chief of Army Staff before the ambushed. Lt. Colonel Ali, as the Chief of Army Staff informed me, enjoyed great operational skills in fighting terrorists and insurgents in the North East and North West before his deployment to the Niger Delta.

“Ali kept faith with his military Career till the end. On behalf of a grateful nation, we honour the sacrifice of Ali and the other gallant patriots who died that day.

“Each man now belongs to the hallowed list of servicemen and women who defended our country and protected their fellow Nigerians not minding the risk to their own lives.”

He stated further, “I commiserate with the families of our fallen heroes and the entire Armed Forces. I bear the pain and grief you carry today. It is my prayer that God will comfort all who are bereaved as a result of this tragedy.

“As Commander-In-Chief, I do not take the contributions of members of our Armed Forces for granted. I recognise your valour and bravery. I honour your unwavering commitment to making Nigeria safe from criminals, bandits, abductors and insurrectionists.

“While we continue to mourn the fallen gallant soldiers on that day, let us also, on this solemn occasion, be reminded of the unfinished business of working for peace and harmony in our communities.

“We must begin to rebuild our communities harmonious, where love, tolerance and peace reign. Politicians, community leaders and traditional rulers should work in unity to strengthen the things that bind us. We must end the cycle of violence and bloodletting.

“I want to make it clear, once more, that those who committed this heinous crime will not go unpunished. We will find them and our departed heroes will get justice.

“The elders and chiefs of Okuama also have a duty to help the military in fishing out the perpetrators or masterminds who committed the barbaric crime against our military.

“I wish to also commend our Armed Forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisal attacks in Okuama or its neighbouring communities. We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuama are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them.”

While he was still addressing the Armed Forces, he said, Don’t be discouraged by the death of your compatriots. “There is no higher honour than the career you have chosen to pursue. We cherish you.

“We admire your commitment and love for your country. We salute your daily sacrifices in protecting your fellow citizens from danger. We acknowledge your sacrifice to defend Nigeria from external and internal insurrections”

“The continent, the sub-region and across the world, the Nigerian Military have remained a force to be reckoned with, embodying a great example and keeping the country’s democracy safe”.

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