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JUST IN: Tinubu confers national honour on slain 17 soldiers, approves other benefits

President Bola Tinubu has conferred the posthumous national honours award to the 17 military personnel killed by youths during a peace mission to end the boundary dispute between Okuoma and Okoloba communities.

Aside from that, Tinubu approved the provision of housing facilities for the surviving family members in their choice states and scholarships for their children, including those in the womb, to the university level.

The president, who spoke glowingly about the deceased officers, directed the payment of death benefits to the family members within 90 days after they had been laid to rest.

The president announced this during the burial ceremony of the slain servicemen at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja on Wednesday which was also attended by State Governors and National Assembly members.

A breakdown of the honours shows that Member of the Order of the Niger (M.O.N) were conferred on the Commanding Officer 181 Amphibious Battalion, Lt. Col. A.H Ali; Maj S.D Shafa (N/13976); Maj D.E Obi (N/14395) and Capt U Zakari (N/16348).

Meanwhile, Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N) was conferred by the president on SSgt Yahaya Saidu (#3NA/36/2974); Cpl Yahaya Danbaba (1ONA/65/7274); Cpl Kabiru Bashir (11NA/66/9853); LCpl Bulus Haruna (16NA/TS/5844); LCpl Sola Opeyemi (17NA/760719); LCpl Bello Anas (17NA/76/290); LCpl Hamman Peter (NA/T82653); LCpl Ibrahim Abdullahi (18NA/77/1191); Pte Alhaji Isah (17NA/76/6079); Pte Clement Francis (19NA/78/0911); Pte Abubakar Ali (19NA/78/2162); Pte Ibrahim Adamu (19NA/78/6079) and Pte Adamu Ibrahim (21NA/80/4795).

He described the deceased personnel as “patriots, brave and noble men” who gave their lives to defend and protect Nigeria against internal and external threats, saying their sacrifice will be remembered and honoured for generations to come.

“Before the dastardly attack, Lt. Colonel Ali, as the Chief of Army Staff briefed me, enjoyed great operational exploits; fighting terrorists and insurgents in the Northeast and Northwest before his deployment to the Niger Delta.”

“Ali kept faith with his military calling till the end. On behalf of a grateful nation, we honour the sacrifice of Ali and the other gallant patriots who died that day. They will forever be remembered as heroes who answered the call of duty and paid the ultimate price.

“Each man now belongs to the hallowed list of servicemen and women who defended our country and protected their fellow Nigerians not minding the risk to their own lives.

“I commiserate with the families of our fallen heroes and the entire Armed Forces. I share in the pain and grief you carry today. It is my prayer that God will comfort all who are bereaved as a result of this tragedy.

“It is worth restating the debt of gratitude we owe these valiant soldiers and their families. As Commander-In-Chief, I do not take the contributions of members of our Armed Forces for granted. I recognise your valour and bravery. I honour your unflinching commitment to making our country safe from criminals, bandits, kidnappers and insurrectionists.

“While we continue to grieve for the courageous men we lost that day, let us also, on this solemn occasion, be reminded of the unfinished business of working for peace and harmony in our communities.”

Tinubu, meanwhile, encouraged the military not to feel downcast over the terrible incident, saying Nigeria cherishes their contribution.

“To the entire armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I have a message for you: Do not let the death of your compatriots discourage you. There is no higher honour than the vocation you have chosen to pursue. We cherish you. We cherish your labour of love. We salute your daily sacrifice in protecting your fellow citizens from danger. We acknowledge your sacrifices to defend our nation.”

“Within our continent, our sub-region and across the world, the Nigerian Military has remained a force for good, embodying a great example and keeping our democracy safe. It is now our duty to protect the families of our departed heroes.

“The Federal Government will provide a house in any part of our country to each of the families of the four officers and 13 soldiers. The Federal Government has also approved scholarships to all the children of the deceased up to the University level. The Military must, within the next ninety days, ensure that all the benefits of the departed are paid to their families. May the families of the departed and all their loved ones find the strength to bear the pain of this loss.”

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