By Solomon Odeniyi
On August 14, 22 soldiers were killed in an ambush by bandits in the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State. On Friday, the soldiers were buried in Abuja. In separate interviews with SOLOMON ODENIYI, relatives of the three of the deceased soldiers relieve the lives of the slain men and officers of the Nigerian Army
How were you related to the slain soldier?
I am Adama Husseini. Cpl Adama Isaac was my immediate younger brother. While he was alive, he was a very friendly person; a loving brother, and a caring father.
What would the family miss about him?
The immediate family has missed a hero, a brother, and a father.
What do you think would make the deceased happy in heaven?
He was very passionate about his family and while alive he ensured that his family members were well catered for. If only this could be continued, I think he would look back and be happy that his sacrifice to the country has not been in vain. Also, he left his wife and four children behind. He was passionate about the education of his children. He would be happy if his children did not stop schooling because he is no longer alive. He would also be happy if his wife was offered employment so that she could adequately take care of his children.
How is the wife taking this?
Sincerely, it has not been easy. I don’t know how she is going to cope with the loss and the burden of taking care of four children.
When was the last time you spoke with him?
I spoke with him on August 14, the very day he died.
Did you have any premonition of his death when you spoke with him?
So what did you discuss?
He only told me they were bringing a plane to move him from Niger to Kaduna where they would get better treatment. He told me he suffered a gunshot injury.
What is your advice to the government to forestall incidents like this?
I think the government should sanitise the system. By this, I mean both the security and military system. To me, it is like there are saboteurs in the military system, if not, who gave the bandits a clue that the troops were coming? What happened was that they (troops) received a distress call and they were going in that direction when they were ambushed by bandits who killed some of them. Those who survived even when the plane came to take them away, still attacked them. There must be an issue somewhere. The military must look inward and ensure they sanitise their system. But it is a pity these ones are no more.
Do you share in the Chief of Defence Staff’s view that the burial is a celebration of gallantry?
Yes, I do. I do because they died defending the country.
The CDS promised to support the families; do you believe this promise?
He has said it and I want to believe they will do something. This is a new government and new military leadership, let me not doubt them. I believe they will do what they have promised for the families.
Military losing young promising officers to banditry —Lieutenant’s sister
What is your name?
I am Noami Abel. My brother was among those being buried today. His name was Lieutenant Usman Akali.
How is the family taking his death?
It is a tragedy, and I personally feel very bad. He was the helper in the house. He has been very supportive. He is a wonderful young man. He left behind two kids and a young wife. It is a blow and a massive tragedy for us.
What would be your advice to the military?
It is not about the military, it is about the country as a whole. What is happening in this country? What are we doing about the security system of this country? Is it that we don’t have capable hands or equipment? How come our promising young men are just dying? What is the issue? For the military, is there anything you are supposed to be doing and you are not doing? Please, the citizens depend on you as the backbone of this country. The leaders in the military should wake up. Please wake up, whatever it is that is causing theproblem, address it. This thing is eating us up. This was what we used to see from far away now, we are here today, young promising officers being buried. As a family, we feel bad. Please wake up Nigerian military, wake up.
Govt should do more for soldiers fighting terrorists –Deceased major’s in-law
What is your name and what’s your relationship with the deceased?
I am Mohammed Alrawi. Major Segun Abiodun Oni was my brother-in-law.
How would you describe the late officer?
He was a fine gentleman, a fine officer, very respectful, and diligent in his duties. He was also a family man. He has left behind a wife and three young children, an aged mother, and five sisters. So, he will be sorely missed. He was a true epitome of what you would call a warrior and a brave Nigerian man, soldier, and officer. We are going to miss him but we will take solace in the fact that he knew God and he is resting with his Father in Heaven now.
May God give us the grace and the fortitude to bear the loss and to also look after his young family.
What was your last moment with him?
My last moment with him was on a video call. I was away out of the country and we had a family video call. Everyone joined in and we were just talking about the good times, seeing again in the not-too-distant future only to find out that it wasn’t going to happen. He was mostly away on assignments. The few times he came to town, he would visit us in Lagos and spend time with the children. He was a fantastic gentleman, his death is very painful to the family.
How did you get to hear about his death?
We got the information from the family. As soon as it happened, the military contacted the family members and we were informed almost immediately.
What thing do you think will gladden his heart looking back at the country?
I think as a country, we need to really sit down and decide what we want. We need to be able to put the right structures in place. I mean, if you follow the story of how this happened, left to me, it was avoidable. He didn’t have to die like this. I know they didn’t die in vain but they didn’t have to die this way. They went to do the work of the country and they were ambushed. How does that happen in a country that is unified? So, we need to put our acts together. We need to protect these young ones. If you look at the ages of the different people who have been laid to rest today, some were born in the year 2000, young souls, young gentlemen. Why will they be cut short so abruptly? So, the country needs to find ways to protect them, make sure they are well catered for, and ensure they have the right equipment to be able to go to battle and win these wars because these are courageous young men. If they have the support of the government and society at large, they will win this insurgency war and we will move on to greater heights. We just need to support them, love them, and protect them.
How is the wife taking this now?
She is like you would expect, she is standing strong but it is not easy. It is not an easy feat, losing your husband at such a young age with three young children to look after. So much must be going through her mind right now. She is just staying strong.