By Myke Uzendu, Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to speak to Nigerians and raise a judicial commission of inquiry on the alleged secret burial of about 1000 slain military officers in an undisclosed grave in Borno State.
An international media organisation, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently published an encounter with a soldier who alleged that several of his slain colleagues were secretly buried at undisclosed graves in Borno state especially when the mortuary facilities in the state were overstretch with the corpses of slain soldiers.
Relating some of the revelations of the officer who was not named, WSJ reported the officer as saying “Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based. They are dying and being deleted from history” reported the soldier from Maimalari barrack.
They went further to report a senior government official who allegedly confirmed that “The secret graveyard at Maimalari isn’t the only one in Nigeria’s troubled northeast”.
Following these revelation, Atiku told President Buhari that Nigerians are entitled to Know the truth. He narrated the efforts the soldiers at the front lines are making to check the incursions of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram, saying that government owe them the duty of proper protection and burial should they loose their lives at the line of duty.
In a statement on Thursday by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, he said:
“I read the report by the Wall Street Journal that over a thousand Nigerian soldiers have been secretly buried at night by the General Muhammadu Buhari led administration, in order to hide the true state of the war on terror, with a sense of heartbreak and shock.
“Heartbreak for the families and friends of those soldiers who, if the report is true, have lost their loved ones, without being allowed to bury them or even to have any sense of closure as regards their fate.
“Shock, that such a thing could happen under a democracy, such as Nigeria is supposed to be. I shudder to think that the cover-up of such an event of epic proportions can be true.
“The men and women of our armed forces are our first, second and last defence against our domestic and foreign enemies and should be treated with love, respect, dignity and appreciation for the invaluable service they render to Nigeria.
“I cannot fathom that in the space of a year, 1000 of these great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told. I hesitate to believe that deceit on such a grand scale is even possible”.
The Waziri Adamawa said that government has a moral burden to constitute a judicial commission to reveal the veracity or otherwise of the allegation. He said that a soldier deserves a decent burial even at death, adding that citizens must hold government accountable on the distribution of arms and ammunitions and further put government under pressure to ensure the immediate end of insurgency.
“To ensure that we get to the bottom of this matter, I urge that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a non-partisan and reputable jurist, be inaugurated to investigate the findings of the Wall Street Journal. While this is occurring, I also strongly urge that a panel of inquiry comprising distinguished former military officers be set up to investigate and report to Nigerians the true state of the war on terror and what must be done to ensure Nigeria brings a speedy end to the ongoing insurgency.
“Nigeria must ensure prudent use of finances, so we can redistribute national resources in such a way that ensures that our military and security forces are well armed and well remunerated.
“Even the death of one soldier affects me. But the alleged cover-up of the deaths of one thousand soldiers is a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria” Atiku said.
Some international organisation including Amnesty International had raised concerns over the killing of innocent citizens by the military in the northern part of the country. They also raised alarm on increase in killings of soldiers by the insurgents. But the federal government had at each instance maintained that insurgency is under control and Boko Haram decimated.