Slained Soldiers: Tinubu offers scholsrships,Housing to Family

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President Bola Tinubu says the federal government will provide scholarships up to the university level for all the children, including the unborn, of the Nigerian Army personnel killed in action at Okuama community in Delta State.

The President, who announced this at the funeral of the personnel at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, on Wednesday, directed the military authorities to ensure that the benefits of the departed are paid to their families within 90 days.

The President also declared that the federal government would provide a house in any part of the nation to each of the families of the four officers and thirteen soldiers.

At the solemn event attended by some state governors, the military hierarchy, and families of the deceased, the President bestowed posthumous National Honours on the 17 fallen heroes.

Lt Col Ali, Major D.E Obi, Major S.D. Ashafa, and Captain U. Zakari were given the honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).

Staff Sergeant Yahaya Saidu, Corporal Danbaba Yahaya, Corporal Kabir Bashir, Lance Corporals Abdullahi Ibrahim, Bulus Haruna, Sole Opeyemi, Bello Anas, Private Alhaji Isah, Clement Francis, Abubakar Ali, Adamu Ibrahim, Hamman Peter, and Ibrahim Adamu were awarded Federal Republic Medals.

“On the 14th day of March, Lt. Colonel A. H. Ali, the Commanding Officer of 181 Amphibious Battalion, led three other officers and 13 soldiers to the Okuama Community to mediate in the lingering dispute with Okoloba Community.

“They went as peacemakers and peacekeepers respectfully seeking to bring an end to the hostilities between the two communities.

“They did not go with tanks, machine guns, and other weapons. They were on a mission of peace.

“Before the dastardly attack, Lt. Colonel Ali, as the Chief of Army Staff narrated to me, achieved great operational exploits; fighting terrorists and insurgents in the North East and North West before his deployment to the Niger Delta.

“Ali kept faith with his military calling until the end.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, we honour the sacrifice of Ali and the other gallant patriots who died that day. They will forever be remembered as heroes who answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price,” the President said.

Reaffirming government’s commitment to justice, President Tinubu vowed to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to account.

While commending the military for not embarking on a reprisal attack on the community, the President declared: “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 Okuama also must help the military in fishing out the gunmen who committed the barbaric crime against our men.

“I wish to commend our Armed Forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisal attacks on Okuama or its neighbouring communities. We must all ensure that the innocent people of Okuama are not made to bear the punishment of the guilty and wicked among them,” the President stated.

President Tinubu, while commiserating with the families of the fallen heroes and the entire Armed Forces, prayed God Almighty to comfort the bereaved.

“It is worth restating the debt of gratitude we owe these valiant soldiers and their families.

“As Commander-In-Chief, I do not take the contributions of members of our Armed Forces for granted. I recognize your valour and bravery. I honour your unflinching commitment to making our country safe from criminals, bandits, kidnappers, and insurrectionists.

“While we continue to grieve for the courageous men we lost that day, let us also, on this solemn occasion, be reminded of the unfinished business of working for peace and harmony in our communities. We must begin to rebuild our communities and make them into places where love, tolerance, and harmony will reign.

‘‘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,” the President said.

President Tinubu urged the Armed Forces not to be discouraged by the death of their fellow compatriots but to honour their memory by rededicating themselves to the service and defence of the nation.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have a message for you: Do not let the death of your compatriots discourage you.

‘‘There is no higher honour than the vocation you have chosen to pursue. We cherish you. We cherish your labour of love. We salute your daily sacrifice in protecting your fellow citizens from danger. We acknowledge your sacrifices to defend our nation,” the Commander-in-Chief affirmed.