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Okuama: Tinubu bestows MON, OFR on slain soldiers

Okuama: Tinubu bestows MON, OFR on slain soldiers


. Offers scholarships to deceased children.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has honoured the 17 officers and soldiers killed at Okuama community in Delta State on March 14 with posthumous national awards.

Tinubu, at the burial of the officers and soldiers, in Abuja, yesterday, announced the award of Member of the Order of Niger (MON) to the four gallant officers and Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) medal to the 13 courageous soldiers.

The president also announced the award of scholarship to all the children of the deceased personnel up to university level. Tinubu, while commiserating with the families of the deceased, said the Federal Government would provide a house in any part of the country to each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers.

The president urged the military authorities to ensure that all the benefits of the departed are paid to their families within the next 90 days. He commended officers and men of the Nigerian armed forces for their bravery in protecting the country and making it peaceful for all to live and urged them not to be deterred by the death of their soldiers but remain resolute and courageous to defeat the adversaries.

While condoling the Nigerian army and the families of the deceased, he assured that their killers will not go unpunished.

“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 have a duty to help the military in fishing out the gunmen who committed the barbaric crime against our men.

“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. Their sacrifice will be remembered and honoured for generations to come.”

Speaking on how the officers met their death, the president said: “On March 14, Lt. Colonel A. H. Ali, the Commanding Officer, 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 didn’t go with tanks, machine guns and other weapons. Before the dastardly attack, Lt. Colonel Ali, as the Chief of Army Staff, briefed me, enjoyed great operational exploits, fighting terrorists and insurgents in the Northeast and Northwest before his deployment to the Niger Delta. Ali kept faith with his military calling till 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.

Lieutenant Colonel Ali; Major D.E Obi; Major S.D. Ashafa; Captain U. Zakari; Staff Sergeant Yahaya Saidu; Corporal Danbaba Yahaya; Corporal Kabir Bashir; Lance Corporal Abdullahi Ibrahim; Lance Corporal Bulus Haruna; Lance Corporal Sole Opeyemi; Lance Corporal Bello Anas; Private Alhaji Isah; Private Clement Francis; Private Abubakar Ali; Private Adamu Ibrahim; Private Hamman Peter, and Private Ibrahim Adamu.

The president said: “Each man now belongs to the hallowed list of servicemen and women who defended our country and protected their fellow Nigerians not minding the risk to their own lives. They have all been awarded posthumous national honours. The four gallant officers have been accorded the award of Member of the Order of Niger (MON). The 13 courageous soldiers, who also lost their lives, have been awarded the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) medal.

“I commiserate with the families of our fallen heroes and the entire armed forces. I share in the pain and grief you carry today. It is my prayer that God will comfort all who are bereaved as a result of this tragedy. 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 recognise 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. I wish to also commend our armed forces for their restraint in choosing not to carry out any reprisals 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.

“To the entire 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.

“Within our continent, our sub-region and across the world, the Nigerian military has remained a force for good, embodying a great example and keeping our democracy safe. It is now our duty to protect the families of our departed heroes. The Federal Government will provide a house in any part of our country to each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers. The Federal Government has also approved scholarships to all the children of the deceased up to the University level. The military must, within the next 90 days, ensure that all the benefits of the departed are paid to their families.”

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