The Defence Headquarters has condemned a publication by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which reports that the army has been burying scores 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.
Reacting to the WSJ publication, the Defence Headquarters denied the reports stating that there are no secret graveyards in the North East Theatre.
In a communique by the Director Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, the Defence Headquarters states that “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 its fallen heroes.
The statement further reads, “It must be unambiguously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and a profanity to extant ethos and traditions of the Nigerian military.”
Colonel Nwachukwu also stated that in tandem with the traditions of the Armed Forces, Fallen heroes are duly honoured and paid the last respect in befitting military funeral of international standard, featuring funeral parade, grave site oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites.
According to the Force Spokesman, “The cemetery described in the publication, which is situated in Maimalari military cantonment is an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the North East theatre, with a cenotaph erected in honour of our fallen heroes.
“The official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen heroes. It is therefore a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by Wall Street Journal”.
The Defence Headquarters urged members of the Armed Forces and the general
public to disregard “such a misinformed publication and see it as a figment of the imagination of the writer, whose knowledge of military valued ethos and traditions is grossly misplaced”.