Families, friends and well-wishers of the late Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other officers on board the ill-fated aircraft that crashed in Kaduna on Friday were inconsolable as the remains of the fallen heroes were laid to rest at the military cemetery on Saturday.
The crash, which claimed the lives of the military personnel, was said to have occurred in Kaduna due to bad weather after attempting landing at the Kaduna International Airport.
The wife of the late COAS and relatives, as well as well-wishers of the fallen officers could not hold back their tears during the burial on Saturday.
The interment followed funeral services at the National Mosque and Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church, after the bodies brought back from Kaduna through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Both President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were absent at both the funeral service and internment of the fallen officers. There was no reason given for their absence.
However, Buhari was represented by the Minister of Defence, retired Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, who eulogised the late Attahiru and other deceased officers on behalf of the president.
Buhari said the late army chief was a dedicated and committed officer, who died when his services were most needed.
He said that late Attahiru had demonstrated a high level of commitment as well as inspired courage and confidence in the officers and soldiers of Nigerian army.
“These were absolute gentlemen and were one of the most disciplined officers and men who sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation and they will never be forgotten.
“These fine gentlemen had a glorious career in the armed forces in the course of which they served gallantly in several capacities,” he said.
According to him, the late Gen. Attahiru was an icon of professionalism, bravery and discipline and he actually demonstrated these attributes throughout his national and international assignments.
He said that the late majors and crew members were also promising young officers that were dedicated and committed to the service of their fatherland.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who titled his remarks, “Love for Country” said that the demise of the late army chief was a monumental loss to the armed forces and Nigeria in general.
Irabor, who recounted their thoughts on how to move the armed forces forward, said they were together at the Training and Doctrine Command when their appointments were announced.
In attendance at the funeral were the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; governors of Borno, Kaduna, Kebbi and Yobe as well as other service chiefs.
Also, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, attended the event.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have continued to pay tribute to the COAS Attahiru and other top military officers that died on Friday.
Death of Attahiru, others shows depth of sacrifice – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received the news of the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers in an air crash on Friday with great sadness.
In a statement issued on Saturday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo noted that their gallantry would always be remembered.
“We honour the service of the Army chief and all those involved in this unfortunate accident even as we continue to demonstrate our profound appreciation to all in our military services and in harm’s way.
“The gallantry of these heroes would always be remembered,” he added.
It’s national disaster – Lawan
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also described the incident as a national disaster of immense proportion that had thrown the nation into mourning.
Lawan who said this in a statement on Saturday by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, said:: “This incident is saddening, coming at a time there is a fresh momentum in the nation’s war against insurgency, banditry and other violent.
It’s personal loss – Omo-Agege
In the same vein, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, described the COAS’s demise as a personal loss to him just as it is to the bereaved families and the entire nation.
In a statement on Saturday by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga, Omo-Agege said that the tragic loss of the army general was a rude shock and a great loss to the military hierarchy.
It’s painful loss – Deputy speaker
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, who also expressed shock and sadness over the death of Attahiru in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Umar Mohammed Puma, said he was pained by the tragic loss of the gallant officers who had served the nation with honour and dignity.
It’s tragic, unspeakable loss – Tinubu
Former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described the death as tragic and unspeakable loss for the nation.
In a condolence message on Saturday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National leader said: “Let us remember these brave patriots not with our tears but by achieving victory over the terrorism and violence that seek to rob our nation of its finest destiny.
“Let this unfortunate accident not deter us but spur us and our valiant military to continue to defend this land from violence and evil.”
Attahiru’s death blow on effort to secure Nigeria – PDP governors
Governors elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described the COAS as a gallant warrior, lamenting that his demise came at a time the Army chief was leading the war against insecurity in the land.
“It’s a huge blow to our nation and her effort to secure the nation,” they said in a statement signed by the Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum chairman and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
It’s national tragedy – Gombe governor
Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State in a statement by the Director-General, Press Affairs, Uba Misilli, on Saturday, described the COAS’ death as “a national tragedy coming at a time the military and other security forces are intensifying efforts to combat terrorism, banditry and other security challenges bedevilling the country.”
COAS’ death shocking, devastating – Oyetola
Osun State Governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, described the tragedy as shocking and devastating.
The House of Representatives Committee on Air Force said the COAS death was painful and shocking.
Kano, Nassarawa govs condole Buhari
Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, expressed deepest condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari and the families of Brigadier General Abdulrahman Kuliya, the Chief of Military Intelligence and indigene of the state, who was among the senior military officers that died along with the COAS.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, the governor said that he was profoundly pained to hear the news of the crash.
Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, who condoled President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigeria Army in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Ibrahim Addra, said he received the news with shock and profound sadness.
Imo, Borno, Kwara govs mourn
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State lamented that the COAS met his untimely death when his services were critically needed.
His Borno State counterpart, Professor Babagana Zulum, said that the late Army chief was determined to thwart insurgency.
Governor Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, who described the incident as a national tragedy and a black Friday for the country, noted that the deceased were true heroes whose passing represented a significant depletion in the ranks of the Nigerian military elites.
It’s painful – Ogun governor
Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, described the tragedy as painful.
He lamented that Attahiru and the officers who died were most needed in the nation’s search for peace and security.
U.S. Mission in Nigeria mourns
The US Mission in Nigeria, while mourning the COAS’ demise, described it as a tremendous loss to Nigeria.
“The death of Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru is a tremendous loss to Nigeria, and his loved ones, especially during these difficult times across Nigeria when security and peace is so needed,” it said.
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), in a statement by its National Chairman, Audu Ogbe, said that the ACF had just started appreciating the new approach of the late General Attahiru in tackling Nigeria’s multiple security challenges when the news of his tragic death hit the nation.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, described the incident as unfortunate.
Also, former President of the Senate, David Mark, expressed shock and sadness over the death of Attahiru and other top military officers.
In a condolence statement, he described the fallen officers as gallant, patriotic and heroes who were committed to the defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria, as well as the restoration of peace, unity and security of the country.
Attahiru, a worthy hero – Ndume
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Mohammed Ali Ndume, also in a statement on Saturday, lamented that the late gallant general died at a time when the nation was looking up to him to effectively provide the necessary leadership that would eliminate insurgency and other forms of criminality in Nigeria.
Nigeria ’ll miss Attahiru’s patriotism – Marwa
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier General Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd), in a statement by the Director, Media & Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Femi Babafemi, described the death of Gen Attahiru and other senior officers as a great loss to the country.
By Itodo Daniel Sule, Muideen Olaniyi, Faruk Shuaibu Abdullateef Salau, Balarabe Alkassim, Hamisu Kabir Matazu (Abuja), Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano), Umar Muhammed (Lafia), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Haruna Gimba (Gombe) & Peter Moses (Abeokuta) with agency report