Okuama killings: We lost gallant officers, soldiers – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu has described the 17 officers and soldiers killed in Okuama on March 14 as patriotic, brave and gallant Nigerians.

He said that the deceased gave their lives to defend and protect the Nation against internal and external threats.

At the burial ceremony of the officers and soldiers on Wednesday in Abuja, Tinubu said that their death serves as a rallying point for Nigerians to condemn crime and criminality.

“They went as peace makers and peace keepers, seeking to bring an end to the hostilities between the two communities.

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“They didn’t go with tanks, machine guns and other weapons. They were on a mission of peace.

“The officers and soldiers who lost their lives that day were patriots, brave and noble men who gave their lives to defend and protect our nation against internal and external threats,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 17 military personnel killed included Lt.-Col. Ali, Maj. D.E Obi, Maj. S.D. Ashafa, Capt. U. Zakari, Staff Sgt. Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Danbaba Yahaya, Corporal Kabir Bashir, Lance Corporal Abdullahi Ibrahim, Lance Corporal Bulus Haruna, Lance Corporal Sole Opeyemi, and Lance Corporal Bello Anas.

The rest are Private Alhaji Isah, Private Clement Francis, Private Abubakar Ali, Private Adamu Ibrahim, Private Hamman Peter, and Private Ibrahim Adamu.

Tinubu said that the deceased have all been awarded posthumous national honours.

“The four gallant Officers have been awarded Member of the Order of Niger (MON). And the 13 courageous soldiers who also lost their lives have been Awarded Officer of the Federal Republic Medals.

“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 unflinching commitment to making our country safe from criminals, bandits, kidnappers and insurrectionists.”

The President urged the officers and men of the military not to be deterred by this setbacks and be prepared to continue to work for peace and harmony.

Tinubu also called on Nigerians to rededicate themselves to rebuilding communities and making them places where love, tolerance and harmony reigns.

“Leaders at all levels, especially community leaders and traditional rulers, must work to strengthen the bonds that unite 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 Okuoma also have a duty to help the military in fishing out the gunmen who committed the barbaric crime against our men.”

The president commended the Armed Forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisal attacks in Okuoma or its neighbouring communities.

“We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuoma are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them.”

He said that government would provide a house in any part of the country to each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers.

Tinubu added that all the children of the deceased would enjoy a Federal Government scholarships up to  University level.

The President also directed the Military to within the next 90 days, ensure that all the benefits of the departed are paid to their families. (NAN) 

By Ismail Abdulaziz

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