Honours To Our Heroes In Gudunbali Attack | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Honours To Our Heroes In Gudunbali Attack

Posted: Dec 9, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Were 105 soldiers attached to the 157 Battalion in Gudunbali on counter-insurgency operations missing or dead after an attack on the troops by the Islamist terrorists’ gang of the Boko Haram?

Did they merely disappear during a military mission and have reappeared as the military authorities have claimed?

Did the military bury some bodies believed to be that of the controversial missing 105 soldiers?

Questions! Questions!! Questions!!!

All kinds of questions are being asked since the shocking tales of the attack on Nigerian soldiers stationed at Gudunbali by the deadly Boko Haram sect, after which some 105 out of 150, including the Commanding Officer (CO) at that theatre were reported missing. There is also the more disturbing story that the controversial missing soldiers have actually been killed and that the military authorities have given them a secret burial at a military cemetery in Maiduguri, Borno State. The loud silence of both the military hierarchy and the Federal Government over the alleged secret burial has not helped matters.

The concerns about the fate of the patriotic Nigerian soldiers have been complicated with the fact that different stories have been told by different military officers since the incidence of the attack was reported. The cloud over the fate of the 105 soldiers has continued to agitate the minds of Nigerians. Two critical issues have popped up from the cloud. (1) Are the soldiers actually dead while the military continues to claim they merely went on a mission, or got missing for a period, and have since returned to base? (2) Did the military conduct any secret burial for some fallen soldiers at its cemetery in Maiduguri after the Gudunbali face off with the Boko Haram terrorists, and if it did happen that some soldiers were buried at the time, whose bodies were they?

It may be of crucial interest to clear the cloud over the fate of the Gudunbali troops, but more crucial is the need for the military, and indeed Nigeria as a nation, to acknowledge at all times, and in all situations, the sacrifices of our soldiers who are at the battlefield fighting to keep the peace and security of the country.

This is to us a very great concern.

The soldiers facing fire for us to have peace from terrorists are our heroes and should any of them fall in the battle, they must continue to be treated even in death as our heroes.

If it did happen that certain fallen soldiers were buried secretly, we believe there should have been no need to do so. The military authorities would do better to carry the Nigerian people along in their operations as the sacrifices being made by our soldiers are widely acknowledged. Doing so will earn the military increasing sympathy and support from the citizenry, while boosting the operational and patriotic values of their services to the nation.

The military authorities must not think that Nigerians do not appreciate the onerous battle that our soldiers are fighting for our sake. Further to that, the military must not think that Nigerians might wrongly believe that losing some personnel during an unfortunate encounter means that they are losing the battle against Boko Haram, and for that reason shield the right information about their operations and challenges from the public. That is far from it.

In any war situation, there will be consequences and one of them is that both sides to the armed conflict face the risk of having casualties. This is the context in which the military must appreciate the services that its men are rendering to the country.

The Nigerian military authorities should borrow a leaf from the way their counterparts in other climes treat their soldiers who are fallen in the course of fighting to defend the country. Elsewhere, the military will treat the bodies of its fallen soldiers with dignity. It will stage a colourful military parade and send a clear message that those soldiers who served and died fighting for the country are national heroes and will be buried as such.

This is the much that our heroes in Gudunbali attack deserve, whether living or dead. They are our heroes. They must forever be treated as heroes.