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Wives of dead generals faint at burial

Posted by By MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA and MOLLY KILETE, Abuja on 2006/09/28 | Views: 857 |

Wives of dead generals faint at burial

Tears flowed freely yesterday as thousands of Nigerians, led by President Olusegun Obasanjo, thronged the National Military Cemetery, Abuja to bid farewell to the 13 top military officers who died in an air crash on Sunday.

… Tears, praises all the way

Tears flowed freely yesterday as thousands of Nigerians, led by President Olusegun Obasanjo, thronged the National Military Cemetery, Abuja to bid farewell to the 13 top military officers who died in an air crash on Sunday.

Mrs. Aisha Lemu, wife of the late Chief of Administration at the Army Headquarters, Maj. Gen.Lemu, was overwhelmed with grief and fainted twice within a space of two hours. Also, wife of the pilot of the crashed Dornier 228, Mrs. Balogun, fainted at the National Hospital, Abuja, just as the body of her husband, Wing Commander S.S. Balogun, was being prepared for his final resting place. The same fate equally befell the widow of Gen. Duniya.
The fallen military officers were laid to rest close to the graves of the 130 Army officers, mostly majors, who similarly perished in an air crash on September 26, 1992.

Significantly, some of the generals were said to be course mates of the victims of the 1992 incident. President Olusegun Obasanjo described the death of the military officers – eight major-generals, two brigadier-generals, two wing commanders and a lieutenant colonel – as a tragic, irreparable and monumental loss.
He said the dead represented some of “the best brain, the best trained, the best behaved and the most experienced senior military officers the nation had ever produced.”
The president, who was accompanied to the funeral by President Tejan Kabba of Sierra Leone, noted that the officers were cut down while working and planning the best for their country, the armed forces and particularly, the Army.

Speaking in similar vein, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, said the deceased were among the most productive, articulate, brightest and bravest in the military before their demise.
“These were officers who had gone to various hot zones of the world and were tested in the rudiments of modern military battlefield which is without demarcation or clear stratification. They came back alive and in one piece, only to lose the ultimate battle to death in a peaceful environment,” the CDS said.

Describing the death as a terrible blow to the military, Agwai said the dead had received the best of military and civil training and had cumulatively served the nation for 386 years and 11 months, with the most senior of them, Maj. Gen. Joseph Adesunloye, serving for 33 years and seven months. On the retreat that cost the nation the lives of the 13 senior officers, the CDS said they were heading for Obudu, Cross River State to put their heads together and fashion out ways and modalities of improving the present level of competence and professionalism in the military.

“This was a firm recognition of their intelligence, industriousness and commitment to duty. They represented the corporate entity of Nigeria as they were drawn from different parts of the country, irrespective of tribe, religion or creed,” Agwai said, adding that a bond between two of the officers, who enlisted in the army together and were friends, was so strong that they resisted being separated and chose to end not only their military career but their lives together.

“They trained together, lived together, played together and died together. I am delighted that the nation has given them the honour to be buried together,” the CDS said.
He commiserated with the bereaved families and promised that the Armed Forces and the Federal Government would give the best support to the survivors in their recovery anywhere in the world.
Some military aides to the fallen generals and their colleagues wept uncontrollably when the pall bearers brought the caskets of the deceased into the arena. Each casket was borne by officers of similar rank as the dead officer.

It was while the ninth casket containing the remains of Maj-Gen Lemu was being brought into the arena, at exactly 11.27 am, that Mrs. Aisha Lemu gave out a shrill cry, collapsed and fainted.She was immediately taken to a waiting ambulance belonging to the State House Clinic where medical personnel attended to her.
Mrs. Lemu had earlier slumped at the National Hospital mortuary, Abuja two hours earlier on seeing the corpse of her husband and was later revived.Her second fainting episode caused some anxiety to her close family relations who were greatly relieved when she emerged from the ambulance marked FG 296 A06, 30 minutes later and was led back by two women into the arena, just in time to witness the lowering of the caskets by the pall bearers.

The Army Director of Islamic Affairs, Brig. Gen. Suleman Yekini, challenged the living to take a cue from their dead colleagues “who are lying here helpless” and return to their primary assignment, which is “to fear Allah,” adding: “We keep going as if we won’t die, but who knows whose turn it is tomorrow? It is time for us to reflect and think about our lives. None knows when and how we are going to die.”

Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President Ken Nnamani, his deputy, Ibrahim Mantu, former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida; former Zambiam president, Kenneth Kaunda, state governors and members of the diplomatic community were among those who paid their last respects to the dead.
Akwa Ibom State governor, Obong Victor Attah, in a statement issued from Washington, USA, urged Nigerians to be thankful for the lives of the fallen soldiers, saying they have watered the trees of our nationhood with their blood.

Text of the statement below:
“I commiserate with the President and Commander-in-Chief, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo and all Nigerians on the death of those senior military officers who died on Sunday in the plane crash. Tragic as their passing is, we must take solace in the understanding that they died as warriors for our nation’s peace, combatants in the front trenches of the battle for the sustenance of our democracy.

“The Holy Books teach us that Almighty God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. What has happened is that the unquestionable God Himself has brought our compatriots to His bosom for eternal rest. And the lesson from the lives of service these men lived is that all of us Nigerians must be prepared to give our all to the course of our nation.

“The departed officers have, with their blood, watered the trees of our nationhood. Our duty today is to ensure that their sacrifices are never in vain. By the faces we show, by the words we speak and by our individual deeds, the sacrifices of these heroes must always remind us of our sacred duty of loyalty and service to Nigeria.

“I understand the pain the President, the officers’ families and all Nigerians must feel at this tragic loss. But our consolation is that a good life, no matter how short, is a long enough life.
“These officers lived a life of service to their fatherland. Theirs, therefore, were lives very well lived. And for this, improbable as thanksgiving may seem at this time, we must give thanks.
“I thank God for their lives of service. May their souls rest in peace and may God Himself console our President, the families of the departed and the entire Nigerian family.”

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown