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COAS Attahiru, 10 others buried amid tears in Abuja

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THE remains of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru, and 10 other officers who died in a plane crash were laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja this evening.

The crash occurred yesterday in Kaduna.

Brigadier-General MI Abdulkadir, Brigadier-General Olayinka, Brigadier-General Kuliya, Major LA Hayat, Major Hamza and Sergeant Umar were also involved in the accident.

Others are Flight-Lieutenant TO Asaniyi, Flight-Lieutenant AA Olufade, Sergeant Adesina and ACM Oyedepo.

Their remains were moved from the 44 Nigerian Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna to the National Mosque and the Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church in Abuja for prayers.

The remains were later moved to the National Military Cemetary for the interment ceremony.

The burial ceremony started around 2.50 pm with a profile of the late COAS read.

A moment of silence was observed after which the fallen officers were honoured with a 21-gun salute.

Dignitaries at the event include Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao; Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, among others.

Attahiru is the third military chief to die in an air crash while in active service after Joseph Akahan in 1968 and Shittu Alao one year later.

In the last three months alone, 23 military personnel have died from crashes involving Nigerian Air Force planes.

In February, seven people died in a Beechcraft King Air B350i aircraft that crashed near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja while two crew members were in the NAF Alpha fighter jet that went missing in the North-East Borno State where there was an ongoing counter-insurgency operation in April.

The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has called for a system-wide investigation into the causes of crashes of military planes.

The caucus in a statement signed by Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, said it was “grief-stricken by the huge tragedy which has befallen the nation and demands a full-scale investigation into the unfortunate incident.

“Gen. Attahiru and the other officers were very courageous and patriotic soldiers, who gave all in the defence of our dear fatherland.”

It charged the military not to be weighed down by the tragic event but to remain focused and undeterred to ensure that the heroes did not die in vain.

“As representatives of the people, we stand with the Army, the entire military as well as the families of the Chief of Army Staff and other gallant officers and men who have paid the supreme price in service to secure our nation.

“Our caucus prays to God to console them at this hour of grief. We urge the Federal Government to take urgent steps to ensure the safety of our fighting men and women, who are daily putting their lives on the line for the security of our nation,” it added.

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