Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has asked the Federal Government to tell “the truth” about the claim by American Wall Street Journal that over 1000 Nigerians have been killed by terror gang Boko Haram or their affiliate ISWAP and secretly buried by military authorities. The former Vice President says if true, the claim by the government that the terrorist group has been defeated is no true. He says he read the news with “a sense of heartbreak and shock.”
However, the Defence Headquarters has dismissed the report saying there are no secret military graveyards in the theatre of operations of the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the northeast.
It faulted a publication by a foreign medium alluding to the existence of secret graveyards in the northeast, insisting that the publication remains a fallacy.
Acting Director of Defence Information Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement that the Nigerian Military has a rich tradition of burying its fallen heroes with honour.
Col..Nwachukwu said: “The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an Online Article by “Wall Street Journal” purporting that the Nigerian Military maintains secret graveyards in the North East theatre of operation. This insinuation can only emanate from an uninformed position of the author of the said publication.
“It therefore becomes necessary to inform the public that the Armed Forces of Nigeria has a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of our fallen heroes
Atiku maintained however that it is “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.
“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, 1000 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.”
Atiku called for full investigation to ascertain the veracity of the claim by the media organization, “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 occurring, I also strongly urge that 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.