… Says “I Shudder to Think Cover Up of Such An Event of Epic Proportion Can be True” …Military Has No Secret Graves…DHQ Undaunted by calls for his arrest by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) for assuming the status of an alternative government, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Atiku Abubakar
… Says “I Shudder to Think Cover Up of Such An Event of Epic Proportion Can be True”
…Military Has No Secret Graves…DHQ
Undaunted by calls for his arrest by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) for assuming the status of an alternative government, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Atiku Abubakar has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported secret burial of 1,000 Nigerian soldiers killed by Boko Haram and The Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).
A statement he signed 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.
He said: “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.
“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.
The Defence Headquarters however says there are no secret graveyards in the North East Theatre of Operation as being insinuated in some quarters.
A statement by Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, director of Defence Information, on Thursday in Abuja, said that such insinuation could only emanate from an uninformed position.
Nwachukwu said that the Armed Forces of Nigeria had a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of their 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 a 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.
“It features funeral parade, grave site oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites,” he said.
Nwachukwu explained that the cemetery described in the publication, situated in Maimalari military Cantonment, was an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces in the North East theatre, with a Cenotaph erected in honour of the fallen heroes.
According to him, the official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths are laid in honour of the fallen heroes.
“It is therefore a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by the “Wall Street Journal”.
“The Defence Headquarters therefore urges members of the Armed Forces and the public to disregard such a misinformed publication.”
He urged them “to see it as a figment of the imagination of the writer, whose knowledge of military valued ethos and traditions is grossly misplace.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has earlier warned Mr Atiku Abubakar, also a former Vice-President of Nigeria to stop behaving like an alternative or shadow president, by incessantly issuing statements that fall within the ambit of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement that urged the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party to wake up to the stark reality of his electoral debacle, the APC told Atiku to stop undermining President Buhari, by issuing statements ” which constitutionally should be reserved for the duly elected head of government or his designees”.
“As a Party, we would have thought that Alh. Atiku who in the past occupied such high office as the country’s Vice President would clearly understand the workings of government, particularly as it borders on national security, foreign policy and our international engagement. We have noted Alh. Atiku’s incessant habits of releasing statements on public issues as if he were an alternative President of this country and with a clear intention to undermine President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC-led government”, the APC said in the statement issued by Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu, its national publicity secretary.
“In recent times, Alh. Atiku has demonstrated lack of regard for the sovereignty of the office of the President and Nigerian government through condescending statements. He has made several of such statements regarding the activities of the Nigerian military, issues of national security, and international relations.
“The latest of such statements is the one he made on the emergence of Mr. Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of Britain even when our duly elected President, who has the responsibility of making an official statement on such matter, has made the position of our country known. We note with serious concern that Alh. Atiku has been throwing himself around as a shadow President of Nigeria. We would like to state clearly that such position could only be found under the parliamentary system; it does not exist under the Presidential system of government that we practice in Nigeria.
“Alh. Atiku, like every Nigerian citizen, should understand that being a candidate for an elective office, including that of the President, does not confer on him a sovereign status. Alh. Atiku’s continuous portrayal of himself as a shadow President under our system borders on felony and makes him a patent impostor.
“There can only be one democratically elected and legitimate government at a time in this country. That clearly is the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is important to remind Alh. Atiku that issues of national security, foreign policy and international engagements are not matters to be exploited to achieve mischievous political ends.
“We reiterate that Alh. Atiku has lost the 2019 presidential election and it would be unhelpful to him to continue to make a mockery of our country. We expect Alh. Atiku to quickly address himself to the stark reality of his loss and move on. Our laws are clear on all acts of criminalities, in this case, a clear case of felony. Nigerians expect that the enforcement of relevant laws should apply to every Nigerian, irrespective of class and status. This government would not be found wanting where it is required to take decisive actions.”