PHOTOS: COAS Attahiru, 10 Others Buried In Abuja In Tears And Grief (FULL DETAILS)
It was a sad day for the country as officers killed in a plane crash were buried on Saturday at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru was one of the 11 officers laid to rest.
The news of their death threw the nation into mourning with President Muhammadu Buhari describing them as “heroes who paid the ultimate price for peace and security in the land.”
The crash occurred on Friday in Kaduna.
The names of the other officers include Brigadier-General MI Abdulkadir, Brigadier-General Olayinka, Brigadier-General Kuliya, Major LA Hayat, Major Hamza and Sergeant Umar.
Others are Flight-Lieutenant TO Asaniyi, Flight-Lieutenant AA Olufade, Sergeant Adesina and ACM Oyedepo.
Their remains were moved from the 44 Nigerian Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna to the National Mosque and the Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church in Abuja for prayers.
The remains were later moved to the National Military Cemetary for the interment ceremony.
The burial ceremony started around 2.50 pm with a profile of the late COAS read.
A moment of silence was observed after which the fallen officers were honoured with a 21-gun salute.
Dignitaries at the event include Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao; Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, among others.
Friday’s air crash was the third military air disaster this year.
An Air Force jet supporting ground troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists went missing in north-east Borno in March.
In February, seven officials died after a military plane crashed in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Attahiru was only appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari last January in a shakeup of the senior command to better fight surging violence and a more than decade-long jihadist insurgency.
But the president, who offered his condolences just hours after the crash in the northern state of Kaduna, did not attend the funeral, an absence widely criticised on social media.
Attahiru died as news emerged that Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist leader Abubakar Shekau had himself been seriously wounded or possibly killed after clashes with a rival Islamic State-allied faction.
The aircraft went down trying to land at the Kaduna International Airport “due to inclement weather”, the armed forces said.
Nigeria’s military has been battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast since 2009, a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 and displaced around two million more.
Attahiru had once been in charge of leading the frontline offensive against Boko Haram’s commander Shekau in the northeast in 2017.
Local intelligence sources said Shekau had been seriously wounded Wednesday when rival jihadists attacked his stronghold in the northeastern state of Borno.
Sources said Shekau was wounded when he shot himself to try to evade capture by militants from the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
One intelligence source said Shekau had already died from his wounds in Nainawa village on Thursday, though that was not confirmed by authorities.
Neither ISWAP nor Boko Haram have reported Shekau dead, but analysts said his loss would be a huge blow to his faction and potentially allow ISWAP to consolidate territorial control in Nigeria’s northeast.
Below are more photos from the burial ceremony:
Photo credits: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television