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DEFENCE

No Secret Graveyards: Army Breaks Down Details of Heroes burial at The Frontlines

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Nigeria Army
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RE: SECRET MILITARY CEMETERY CONCEALS TOLL OF ISLAMIST INSURGENCY IN NIGERIA

The Nigerian Army has debunked a statement attributed to Joe Parkinson and released on 31 Jul 19 in “The Wall Street Journal” that the Nigerian Army has a secret cemetery that conceal toll of Islamist Insurgency.

The statement that was released by Deputy Director, Public Relations, Operation LAFIYA DOLE Colonel AD Isa stated that:

The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a mischievous Article titled, Secret Military Cemetery Conceals Toll of Islamist Insurgency in Nigeria, was written by Joe Parkinson and released on 31 Jul 19 in “The Wall Street Journal”.

The writer alleged that the bodies of dead soldiers are covertly transported from a mortuary, delivered by truck and laid by flashlights into trenches dug by infantry or local villagers paid a few dollars by shift.

It also alleged that soldiers were buried in unmarked graves at night in secret graves.

Similarly, it alleged that Nigerian Government last summer stopped reporting the deaths of soldiers in its fight against Boko Haram. Likewise, it claimed that the operational command holds the bodies of 1000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began offensive last summer.

Additionally, it reported on one Mercy Tamuno, who demanded to see where her husband was buried, and she was led to a spot marked with a plastic bottle with her husbands name written on it.

It further claimed that 2 soldiers from the late soldiers unit said the bottle was prepared to appease his wife.

Furthermore, the writer made some derogatory comments on rotation of troops, gruesome punishments to suspected jihadists and declining morale of own troops.

Having critically studied the allegations, it was obvious that the writer’s claims were baseless and intended to smear the good image of the NA and lower the moral component of troops in the ongoing Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency operations.

In this light, I wish to respond on behalf of the NA as follows:

Maimalari Military Cemetery is the only recognized place where burials are held in the Theatre.

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The stretch of land where the cemetery is located and produce beyond belongs to the NA and not taken over from any person or group of persons as claimed.

This area like in other armies is secured to honour and give recognition to the sacrifices of officers and soldiers who paid the supreme price by laying down their lives for the peace, security and unity of the country.

In our own case, a hall of fame was also built in the cemetery to honour the fallen heroes and act as reference point for posterity.

Burial procedure in the NA is entrenched in the NA Administrative Policies and procedures.

The procedures is triggered by first notifying the higher headquarters and NOKs of the deceased personnel for coordination.

It is a command responsibility and attended by officers and soldiers of the unit within the Theatre of operations.

The timings for all burials in the Theatre have always been before the flags are lowered in the evening.

Maimalari cemetery is partitioned into 2 to accommodate Christians and Islam faithfuls.

The graves are also partitioned, and grave pegs placed to mark each grave. Hence, the claims that soldiers were buried in unmarked graves at night in secret graves is unfounded.

Suffice to state that all deceased are also honoured with the 21 gun salute in line with the ethics and traditions of the NA.

As such, one wonder how the firing could be done in secret contrary to NA traditions.

Certainly, commanders on their own cannot carry the corpses to the cemetery without the knowledge and support of the troops.

If this is done with the awareness of the troops, certainly it would not have been a secret.

Likewise, if not done with their knowledge, the commander on his own would not be able to drive the vehicle, carry the corpses, dig the graves and also bury the bodies without any support.

Thus, this allegation is not only worrisome but also questionable. More especially when we have the Governor, Service Chief, Principal Staff Officers from Service Headquarters, Commanders, NOKs, families and members of the press that did attend funeral ceremonies of fallen heroes.

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On the allegation that Nigerian Government last summer stopped reporting the deaths of soldiers in its fight against Boko Haram is also disturbing.

Generally, events and lessons learnt from battles have shown that death in combat is inevitable.

In as much as the NA tries to reduce casualties in the battle against the insurgents, it still happens as one of the hazards of war fighting.

Obviously, when such occurrences happen, it is made known to higher headquarters to trigger burial procedures and processing of benefits.

This is also done with the consent of the NOKs and not in the secret. Soldiers also move in pairs or in groups, as such one wonder how the corpses could be isolated without the knowledge of their colleagues, which would have dampened their morale to fight or take orders from their superiors.

The claim that the operational command holds the bodies of 1000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began offensive last summer is just unbelievable.

The questions are where, when, why and for what reason would 1,000 bodies be kept in the hide without anyone seeing it or perceiving the smell.

Curtaining, this allegation further buttress the fact that the writer intends to smear the good image of the NA and the Government.

The report that one Mercy Tamuno, who demanded to see where her husband was buried, and she was led to a spot marked with a plastic bottle with her husbands name written on it is again unbelievable.

Interestingly, 13NA/70/9866 LCpl Adah Tamuno, whose wife; Mrs Mercy Tamuno claimed her husband was buried in the secret grave gave false report.

The late gallant (soldier was serving with 119 TF Bn at Metele and died during combat.

He was officially buried on 29 Nov 18 at the Maimalari Military Cemetery with proper military honour by daylight with the grave well marked, not with a plastic bottle, alongside his colleagues.

The last burial in the Theatre was that of Capt A Mohammed who was killed on 17 Jul 19 in an ambush alongside with Col EE Elemele and 5 others along Jakana-Benisheik MSR.

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The Capt was buried on 18 Jul 19 at the Maimalari Military Cemetery in accordance with Islamic rites.

The burial was attended by the families of the deceased and other sympathizers.

The writer made some derogatory comments on rotation of troops, gruesome punishments to suspected jihadists and declining morale of own troops.

Suffice to state that the NA has a standing policy on the rotation of troops in the Theatre.

The last rotation of de-inducted troops was conducted on 28 Jul 19 and the troops are currently at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji undergoing de-induction training.

The next batch of troops to be inducted are already at the Nigeria Army Special Forces Training School at Buni Yadi for induction training, after which they would be moved to the Theatre for deployment.

The pictures of the rotated troops are also available and hereby attached. In terms of the gruesome punishments to captured insurgents, one wonders why the writer decided to contradict himself in the article by reporting the immoral activities of the insurgents.

The NA is a professional Army and captured insurgents are treated in line with global best practices and in accordance with International Humanitarian Laws.

Above all, the morale of troops in the theatre remains high and not as reported.

It is obvious that the essence of the report is to distract own troops from maintaining the tempo in the ongoing operations.

The public is hereby advised to disregard the allegations as written by Joe Parkinson and released on 31 Jul 19 in The Wall Street Journal.

The NA remain resolute in its fight against the insurgents and will never be distracted by media propaganda.

The threat to the national security of our beloved country require that all hands are on deck to win the war against terrorism and insurgency.

Governor, Service Chief, Principal Staff Officers from Service Headquarters, Commanders, Next of kins, families as well as members of the Press attend befitting funeral ceremonies of fallen heroes with Gun Salute.

COVER

Army Launches Operations Against Oil Thieves

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From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa

The Nigerian Army in Bayelsa State at the weekend launched a raid on the camps of suspected oil thieves and Militants at Igbomotoro and Azuzuama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government area of the state.

It was gathered that the raid, which was conducted by men of 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, also combed the crude oil pipeline route along the Obama flow station, Kolo creeks and Brass areas of the State.

While a senior military sources said that the operation was also targeted at tackling the operations of some known militants involved in setting up illegal bunkering camps in communities of Southern Ijaw and some other illegal activities.

Another claimed the operation was targeted at arresting a known militant leader over his alleged shady activities, but he escaped with his boys through the creeks when he was alerted about the impending military raid.

It was also however gathered that the shrine allegedly being used to administer oaths on youths during recruitment into the illegal bunkering activities by the suspected militant leader was destroyed and many other items including Military Camouflage, Mobile phones and military boots were seized.

Indigenes of the Igbomotoro community however cried out over alleged military occupation of the area thereby causing panic and desertion by indigenes over fear of indiscriminate arrest.

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An Indigene of Igbomotoro, who pleaded anonymity, however told Daily Asset on Sunday that the area is calm as the military men have retreated from the community as at Sunday morning,” the situation is calm now. We are peace loving community and would not want soldiers to occupy our area.”

Attempts to get the spokesman of the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army and the Joint Military Task Force to speak on the development proved abortive as no one showed signs of denying or confirming the development.

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DEFENCE

Troops Nab Alleged Gunrunner, Seven Rail Track Vandals in Taraba, Benue

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja

The Military High Command said its troops of Operation whirl stroke have arrested a notorious gun runner, one Mr. Ardo Manu Abdulrahaman Maranewo who has been on the security wanted list while seven rail tracks vandals were arrested in Taraba, Benue States.

Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Bernard Onyeuko, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said Abdulrahaman is specialized in selling and leasing arms and ammunition to bandits and kidnappers in Taraba State.

“Troops on patrol in Udei general along Udei -Makurdi-Lafiya road arrested 7 rail track vandals namely; Tersoo John (40yrs), Donald Kperuv (30yrs), Abraham Tinde (25yrs), Jamilu Danlami (20yrs), James Yandela (29yrs), Idris Usman Imam (32yrs) and Abubakar Adamu (30yrs).

Onyeuko said that the rail track vandals were arrested with a trailer (ABJ KWALI 846XB) loaded with cut to size vandalised railway tracks and sleepers.

He in another development, said the troops have on June 21, also raided a kidnappers enclave at Maraba in Ukyonugu Ityuluv Ward in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State and arrested a bandits collaborator one Mr. Ichen Igbaka, a 65- year-old and his wife Mrs. Salomi Gbaka.

“Their house as a hideout for kidnapped for late bandit leader Mr Azu,” he said, adding that the suspects and items recovered are in custody for further interrogation.

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Meanwhile, in the North West he said “On 21 Jun 2022 troops of FOB Bakura Operation HADARIN DAJI responded to distress call of terrorists’ activities at Rafin Dankura in Bakura LGA of Zamfara State engaged the terrorists in a shootout after abducting innocent civilians.

“After the encounter troops rescued the six (6) kidnapped civilians and neutralised 2 bandits in the process.

“Similarly, on 21 June 2022 in response to a distress call on terrorists activities made contacts with marauding terrorists at Maigora in Faskari LGA of Katsina State and neutralized 2 terrorists in the process.

“Items recovered includes 2 AK 47, 1x 36 hand grenade, 2 x cell phones and the sum two hundred and eleven thousand, nine hundred and fifteen naira (211,915.00),” he disclosed.

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CRIME

Don’t Resume Train Service until AK-9 Victims are Rescued, Family Members Charge NRC

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42 days after terrorists attacked the AK-9 train along the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, families of the over 100 persons still in captivity have urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, not to resume services on the corridor until all those held captive are safely rescued.

Addressing a press conference, Monday, in Abuja, the families lamented the horrible conditions the abducted passengers have been forced to live in, even as they took a swipe at the manner the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the NRC have so far handled the matter.

Representatives of the families, Abfulfatai Jimoh and Ba’abba Muhammad said it would be insensitive for NRC to resume operations on the route with fate of scores of passengers kidnapped still unknown.

“Abuja-Kaduna train service should not resume until the quick and safe rescue of our family members held hostage and adequate security measures are put in place to guarantee the safety of prospective passengers.

This position aligns with the prayers of the majority of Nigerians,” they said.

According to them, “it has been 42 long days of living in fear, virtually no sleep, no bath, wearing the same clothes, under the scorching sun and rain, and exposed to extreme environmental hazards.

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“The emotional, psychological, mental, and physical torture arising from these conditions are only imaginable.

“Among the abducted passengers are children- some as young as three years old, pregnant women, women including an 85-year-old great grandmother, and others. Some of these victims have health challenges requiring daily medications, which they have had no access to in the last 42 harrowing days.”

In an emotionally-laden voice, Jimoh added that the story of one of the victims giving birth in the forest is difficult to accept in a sane society.

“We read in the news that one of the two pregnant women in captivity delivered her baby in the forest.

“Giving birth is supposed to be a moment of joy; how would it have been if this woman delivered her baby in the comfort of a maternity ward? In whose hands? What is the place of birth of this baby, the forest? While some families have their breadwinners in captivity, others have their wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, and aunts held down in the bush.

“This hostage-taking has drastically disrupted the living conditions of affected families. Children are crying everyday, with the only question in their mouths being: When are my Mummy and Daddy coming home? What a miserable state!

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“Since this unfortunate attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train, we believe the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, alongside his security and intelligence chiefs, have been working to rescue our loved ones. We have been given assurances that a positive outcome of these efforts would be apparent soon.

“We must, however, register our displeasure with the way and manner the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has been handling this tragic event since it occurred. Just a few days after 28th March, Mr. Amaechi was seen running around the Stadium in Port Harcourt where he declared his intention to become the next President of Nigeria.

“We had expected Mr. Amaechi to be running around as to how to get his abducted passengers rescued, and this is highly disappointing. Mr. President also directed the Management of NRC to establish a Situation Room to give a minute by minute account of rescue efforts to relatives of kidnapped passengers.

“Still, one week after this Presidential directive was issued, NRC has neither contacted the relatives of kidnapped victims nor established any Situation Room as directed by the President. This display of gross incompetence and insensitivity should lead to the appropriate punishment.

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“Furthermore, we sought the intervention of the leadership of the National Assembly, which is the people’s court, but nothing has been forthcoming from them.

“We want to extend our profound gratitude to Nigerians, elder statesmen, traditional, religious, and community leaders, and the Nigerian media who have lent their strong voices to this struggle both in the open and behind the scene and their prayers for divine intervention. We still need this vital support until success is achieved,” they said.

Fielding questions from journalists, Hidayiat Yusuf, spokesperson for the families slammed the NRC for contemplating resumption of operations on the route, saying “if there was security in place, our loved ones would not have been kidnapped.

“We are ready to negotiate with the terrorists if they are willing. If it is money they want, they should come forward and say so,” she added.

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