The Nigerian Army has denied the assassination of Col. Ibrahim Sakaba, saying the soldier died while fighting terrorists in the Northeast, and was not assassinated as some have speculated in various quarters.
It would be recalled that a few days ago, the media have been awash with a purported tweet by the wife of the late soldier, alleging that her husband was assassinated for opposing corrupt embezzlement of arms fund by top military officials.
However, reacting to the reports, Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement recently, dismissed claims attributed to the widow of the late Sakaba, Mrs. Oluwaseun Sakaba, suggesting that the soldier was murdered for refusing to steal from funds that were meant for fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
He described the Colonel’s death and the death of other soldiers as painful to the Army, adding that the claim was unfounded, one which bears no element of truth.
“While the Nigerian Army is not interested in joining issues with anyone concerning the enormous sacrifices made daily by our gallant troops, it is however expedient to address the weighty allegations credited to the widow.
“The Nigerian Army acknowledges the emotional agony associated with losing loved ones and that cannot be quantified by any unit of measure,” he stated.
The Army public relations director noted that the men and women who died along with Col. Sakaba, paid the ultimate price while serving the nation, fighting to restore peace and stability in the embattled region.
According to him, it would be total mischief and an assault on the psyche of the fighting troops to begin to insinuate any plot against one of its own.
“And what is the plot here? That troops were led by their Commander for an operational engagement is not a plot, as anyone may want to insinuate,” the statement added.
“Rather, it was a clear military mission with a clear objective. It is however disheartening that this gallant officer and some of his men paid the supreme price in the operation and we pray fervently for the repose of their souls.
“Col. Sakaba was a respected senior officer who gave his all in the defense of the freedom we all enjoy today. His demise is a great loss to all of us. Insinuating anything contrary is a de-service to our nation and the sacrifices of our troops.”
Regarding the entitlements of the slain soldier, Nwachukwu said that available records revealed that the late officer had his son, Samuel Ibrahim Sakaba as the next of kin and the only child, adding that all entitlements meant to be paid by the Nigerian Army had been paid to the son through Mrs. Sakaba.
This was done through the officer’s wife because as of the time his entitlements were processed, Samuel was less than six years and as such, he was not benefiting from army school sponsorship.
“However, now that he has reached the required age, he has been captured for payment of school sponsorship which will commence any moment from now.
“The Nigerian Army will continue to sponsor the child’s education up to graduation from university, as long as he fulfills the requirements outlined in the rules guiding the scheme.
“The only entitlement owed Mrs. Sakaba is the Group Life Assurance, which is normally paid by the Insurance Company and which would soon be received along with that of other deceased personnel,” Gen. Wachukwu stated.
He further disclosed that various welfare programmes have been put in place by the Nigerian Army, stressing that the well-being of the troops remains a paramount priority of the force.
The Army spokesman further stated that the Army leadership had made the welfare of troops, one of the cardinal pillars of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS’) vision, adding that the channels of communication for families of deceased personnel have been well established.
Gen. Nwachukwu insisted that the Nigeria Army will not be deterred, but remain focused in its pursuit of excellence and in ensuring that all Nigerians enjoy their God-given right to live freely anywhere across the nation.