Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters, DHQ, on Thursday, rubbished a report by the Wall Street Journal which claimed that 1, 000 soldiers in the North-East were secretly buried under the cover of darkness after being killed by Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents.
The Director of Defence Information, Onyema Nwachukwu, insisted that the Nigerian Armed Forces does not engage in the secret burial of soldiers but accords fallen soldiers a befitting military funeral of international standard.
The Wall Street Journal report had alleged that about 1,000 soldiers killed by Boko Haram were secretly buried in the North-East.
However, Nwachukwu maintained that the report was a figment of the writer’s imagination.
A statement signed by Nwachukwu reads: “The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an Online Article by “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.
“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 unambiguously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and 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, gravesite 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 “Wall Street Journal”.
The Defence Headquarters, therefore, urged members of the Armed Forces and the general public to disregard the 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”.
We had earlier reported that Atiku Abubakar, 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported secret burial of 1,000 Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram and ISWAP.
A statement the former vice president signed on Thursday said the Wall Street Journal report on the matter was saddening and that the attempt to hide the true state of the war on terror was heartbreaking and shocking.