The Nigeria Military on Thursday decried what it described as a misinformed publication and a figment of the imagination of Wall Street Journal alleging that secret burial sites where troops killed by Boko Haram are buried silently exist.
They noted that the writer of the publication lacks knowledge of military valued ethos, and traditions on treatment of fallen heroes in the country.
This was contained in a statement titled ‘There Are No Secret Graveyards in the North East Theatre’, signed by the Acting Director, Defence Information, Col Onyema Nwachukwu that was obtained by WesternpostNigeria on Thursday.
According to him, “The Defence Headquarters has noted with dismay an Online Article by “Wall Street Journal” purporting that the Nigerian Military maintains secret graveyards in the North East theatre of operation.
“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 have a rich and solemn tradition for the interment of our fallen heroes.
“Therefore, 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.
“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.
“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 therefore urges 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.”
According to the Wall Street Jurnal report, at the northern edge of this city’s sprawling military base, a vast field of churned soil conceals the hidden toll of a deadly offensive by the allies of Islamic State.
After dark, the bodies of soldiers are covertly transported from a mortuary that at times gets so crowded the corpses are delivered by truck, according to Nigerian soldiers, diplomats and a senior government official. The bodies are laid by flashlight into trenches dug by infantrymen or local villagers paid a few dollars per shift.
“Several of my comrades were buried in unmarked graves at night,” said a soldier from the Maimalari barracks, where more than 1,000 soldiers are based. “They are dying and being deleted from history.”