Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called for a judicial inquiry into the alleged secret burial of over 1000 Nigerian soldiers killed by insurgents in northeastern Nigeria, particularly in Borno State.
The United States- based Wall Street Journal had reported the alleged secret burial in its latest edition, a development that has stirred controversy within and outside the country.
The Journal reported that the dead soldiers were being buried in the night in unmarked graves in farmlands to hide the huge casualty figures being recorded in the war against terror.
In a statement Thursday which he personally signed, Atiku said the report should be investigated with the view to establishing the true state of the federal government’s counter insurgency war in the North East.
“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,” Atiku said.
Expressing shock at the development, Atiku, who contested against President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, described the report as a source of heart break for families as friends of the dead soldiers.
He further stated that if the reports were true, a grave injustice had been done to the loved ones of the dead soldiers as they were not allowed to bury their dead or even to have any sense of closure as regards their fate.
Wondering how such unwholesome practice could take place under a democracy, Atiku regretted that the authorities could cover up such event of epic proportions.
The statement added: “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.
“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.
“Even the death of one soldier affects me. But the alleged cover-up of the deaths of one thousand soldiers is a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria.”