The late Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru was laid to rest Saturday at 4.25 pm along with 10 other military officers who died in Friday’s plane crash in Kaduna amidst betrayal of emotions, even by senior officers.
The Chief of Policy and Planning, Ben Ahanotu, a Major-General, couldn’t restrain himself as he wept when he concluded reading a funeral oration in which Attahiru was described as an “articulate, dedicated, loyal and hardworking officer”.
Other officers interred alongside Attahiru with full military honours at the national military cemetery were Brig-Generals, M. I Abdulkadir, Olayinka and Abdulrahman Kuliya; Majors Lawal Hayat, Nura Hamza, and Sergeant Umar. Others included four crew members namely Taiwo Oluwafemi Asaniyi, Alfred Olufade, Sergeant Adesina, and ACM Oyedepo. They were buried with their berets and boots.
In the moving oration, Ahanotu said Attahiru was “A calm, firm but fair officer with a good sense of purpose and responsibility. He was a fortnight General and a professional infantry officer who was genuinely committed to duties.
“It is said that from dust we come and unto dust we shall return. Late Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru has bowed to mother earth. His death is a great loss to his family, the Nigerian Army, and indeed the nation in general. We love you but God loves you most.
“He always had the desire to add value wherever he served and he relates on a friendly and sympathetic terms with his colleagues and and was always willing to help others. He was a caring husband, loving father, and a great friend to so many, especially me”.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, here lies the remains of Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru – a gallant professional soldier, a worthy son of Nigeria, and proven senior officer who respected and cared for others.
Earlier at the national mosque, Abuja where prayers were said for Attahiru and five others who were of the Islamic faith, the Imam, Ahmed Awura, described death as inevitable and enjoined Nigerians to worship God and prepare for death whenever it comes. Awura said “My brothers and sisters, if you are looking for reality, this is the reality of life. We should realise that when and how we are going to die, we do not know.
“They will be sick in Nigeria and they will be running away to Dubai and other places. One day, death would come and we should all prepare for God. I wish you all life and prosperity”.
A similar prayer had been said for the five Christians amongst the plane crash victims at the National Air Force Protestant Church, Abuja.
The interment of the remains of the deceased officers which was witnessed by family members, was followed by 21 gun salutes and special parade by military personnel who performed the reviled (wake up call) to dead military personnel.
In his tribute, President Muhamnadu Buhari, who was represented by the minister of defence, Bashir Salihu Magashi, a retired Lieutenant General, said the tragic incident marked a trying period for Nigeria. He stated that the sacrifices of the late officers cannot be forgotten, adding that their legacies would live on. According to the President, “The late Chief of Army Staff inspired confidence and inspired courage in the Nigerian Army under his watch” adding that he would always be remembered for his devotion to his duties with landmark contributions. Buhari said the deceased officers would be missed “for their uncommon loyalty to Nigeria”. Also paying his last respect, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, described the late officers as accomplished officers. He described the tragedy that befell the nation as “painful”, but vowed that it would not be in vain “because it will not end the fight against insurgency”.
Irabor urged Nigerians and the Armed Forces in particular, to remain undaunted in the fight against insurgency and other violent crimes in the country. Other dignitaries who attended the ceremony were the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the governors of Yobe and Kaduna States, Mai Bala Buni, and Nasir El-Rufai, respectively; the Sultan of Sokoto, His eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III, and the Service Chiefs. Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari was represented by Dame Pullen Tallen, minister of Women Affairs, among other personalities.