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Atiku, Others React On Wall Street Report On Secret Burial Of 1000 Nigerian Soldiers Killed By Boko Haram

By Eniola Daniel
Former vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar yesterday called for thorough investigation of the report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that claimed that at least 1000 members of the Nigerian army were been buried at night in secret cemetery in the last one year.

The report claims that the Nigerian Army has been burying hundreds of soldiers in secret unmarked graves, in a bid to cover up the casualty figures in the ongoing war against insurgency within the North East.

According to the report, at the northern edge of Maiduguri city’s sprawling military base, a vast field of churned soil conceals the hidden toll of a deadly offensive by the allies of Islamic State.

It further states that after dark, the bodies of soldiers are covertly transported from a mortuary that at times gets so crowded the corpses are delivered by truck.

The report says that the bodies are laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.

WSJ says its report is based on accounts from Nigerian soldiers, diplomats, and a senior government official.

A soldier who WSJ claimed spoke from the Maimalari barracks is quoted as saying, “Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” where more than 1,000 soldiers are based. “They are dying and being deleted from history.”

The secret graveyard at Maimalari isn’t the only one in Nigeria’s troubled northeast, said the senior government official quoted by WSJ.

While president says war against Islamist insurgency is won, army conceals toll in unmarked graves

But the sprawling secret graveyard in Maiduguri and an official cemetery at the base, the operational command for the northeastern front in Borno State, now hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began an offensive last summer, according to soldiers and military officials, some of whom estimated a far higher death toll.

Reacting through his official Twitter account, Atiku said, “Heartbreak for the families and friends of those soldiers who, if the report is true, have lost their loved ones, without being allowed to bury them or even to have any sense of closure as regards their fate.

“Shock, that such a thing could happen under a democracy, such as Nigeria is supposed to be. I shudder to think that the cover-up of such an event of epic proportions can be true.

According to the WSJ report, “But the sprawling secret graveyard in Maiduguri and an official cemetery at the base, the operational command for the northeastern front in Borno State, now hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed since the terror groups began an offensive last summer, according to soldiers and military officials some of whom estimated a far higher death toll.”

“The men and women of our armed forces are our first, second and last defence against our domestic and foreign enemies and should be treated with love, respect, dignity and appreciation for the invaluable service they render to Nigeria.

“I cannot fathom that in the space of a year, scores of these great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told. I hesitate to believe that deceit on such a grand scale is even possible.

Calling for investigation, Atiku said, “to ensure that we get to the bottom of this matter, I urge that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a non-partisan and reputable jurist, be inaugurated to investigate the findings of the Wall Street Journal.

“While this is ongoing, I strongly urge a panel of inquiry comprising distinguished former military officers be set up to investigate and report to Nigerians the true state of the war on terror and what must be done to ensure Nigeria brings a speedy end to the ongoing insurgency.

“Nigeria must ensure prudent use of finances, so we can redistribute national resources in such a way that ensures that our military and security forces are well armed and well remunerated.

“Even the death of one soldier affects me. But the alleged cover-up of the deaths of scores of soldiers is a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria.

On his part, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri said, “I felt like weeping after reading Wall Street Journal’s story of how General Buhari covered up the killing of 1000 troops by Boko Haram in the last one year by burying them at night. And two days ago, Buhari said he has 'defeated' Boko Haram.

Former Minister of Aviation, Fani Kayode, said, “Like Boko Haram you believe that an attack on Boko Haram is an attack on the north.

You opposed the proscription of Boko Haram in 2013.

“You gave them more money than any other President to Boko Haram in ransoms. You freed more Boko Haram members than any other President.

You were their friend and mentor and they appointed you as their Chief Negotiator in 2013.

You allowed them to take more Nig. territory than at any other time since 2013.

You have placed an embargo on media reportage of their most terrible atrocities and victories.

You left Leah Sharibu with them, abandoned her and left her for dead because she is a Christian.

Finally they are killing our soldiers and you are keeping it quiet and burying them secretly in mass graves. Is this because most of those that you deploy to the frontline and that have been killed are from the south and Middle Belt and you do not want Nigerians to hear their names, know their faith or know where they come from? Please tell us where you buried the gallant 1000 troops that Boko Hatam murdered and that the Wall Street Journal claims that you have hidden from us.They deserve to be honored and they deserve a befitting burial.

Finally please tell us why you do these things? What have the Nigerian people done to offend you?

Why do you love Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen so much? Why do you enjoy it when Nigerian blood flows and when the Nigerian people weep, mourn wear black and shed tears?

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