By Umar Salam.
Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters (DHQ), has refuted a publication by the Wall Street Journal which reported that about 1,000 soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents were secretly buried in the Northeast, in a bid to keep up appearances with the impression that the war against insurgency had been won.
Speaking on behalf of the military, the Director of Defence Information, Onyema Nwachukwu, described the report as uninformed, noting that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials which he termed “sacrilegious”.
Nwachukwu added that fallen soldiers are given befitting military funeral in line with the traditions of the Armed Forces and global best practices.
He said: “The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an Online Article by “Wall Street Journal” purporting that the Nigerian Military maintains secret graveyards in the North East theatre of operation. This insinuation can only emanate from an uninformed position of the author of the said publication.
“It, therefore, becomes necessary to inform the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of our 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 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, featuring funeral parade, gravesite oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites.
“The cemetery described in the publication, which is situated in Maimalari military Cantonment is an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the North East theatre, with a Cenotaph erected in honour of our fallen heroes. The official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen heroes. It is, therefore, a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by “Wall Street Journal”.