According to reports, the remains of Lt. Col. Muhammed Abu-Ali and six other soldiers killed in battle last Friday were committed to earth at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, yesterday.
President Buhari, represented by Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, extolled the virtues of the fallen heroes, saying: “The officer and soldiers together with their colleagues have shown unalloyed commitment to the common good of all Nigerians. They were fearless, responsive, inspiring, selfless and dedicated to the discharge of their duties.”
He added: “In times like these, the attention of our nation is refocused on the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, epitomising the noble values that unite our country. The selflessness of these gentlemen reinvigorates the memories of other great heroes who stood firm in the defence of our dear nation and had to pay the supreme price in the fight against insurgency.”
The funeral was attended by the Estu of Bassa-Nge, Abu Ali, a retired Brigadier General and father of the deceased Lt. Col. Others include Senate Committee Chairman, Army, George Akume; Senator Dino Melaye; Philip Aduda; Ministers of Defence, Information, FCT, Solid Minerals; Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Air Staff; and Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly Usman Iman.
Sobbing intermittently, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, reeled out the names of the fallen soldiers: Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu-Ali, Staff Sgt. Muazu Ibrahim, Sgt Husseini Jafaru, Sgt Okon Bassey, Cpl Chukwu Simon, Private Salisu Lawal, and Able Seaman Patrick Paul.
He said the soldiers were inducted into Operation Lafiya Dole in 2014, to form the pivot of the counter-insurgency in the North East.
“As members of 119 Task Force Battalion, and the Special Forces, they went after the adversaries, to smoke them out of their enclaves, bomb their factories and hiding areas. They were brave, precise, professional and inspiring.
“They led the battle to recapture the towns and villages of Monguno, Baga, New Marge, Bama, Gwoza, Banki Junction, Gamboru Ngala, Yale, Yemteke, Bitam, Doronaira, Kagarwa, Ärrege, Abadam, and Mallam Fatori.
“In these battles, they rescued women, and children, fathers and mothers, the young and the old, and restored peace and order to Nigerian citizens. At last, on November 4, 2016, they paid the supreme sacrifice in the battle of Mallam Fatori.”
He assured the spouses of the deceased and their dependents that the nation would take care of their needs.