The Nigerian Army Monday handed over 182 freed Boko Haram suspects to the Borno State Government even as it vowed to win the ongoing war again terrorism in the country as a way of honouring the fallen soldiers.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Col. Kenneth Minimah, who gave the promise said that would be the only way to put the souls of soldiers who died in the battle against Boko Haram to rest.
Minimah stated this in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, while laying the wreath at the graveyards of the fallen heroes of the ongoing war against Boko Haram as part of the activities marking this year’s Army Day Celebration.
According to Minimah, “The only way to honour our officers and men who lie ahead of me is to ensure that this war is won and I promise that we will win this war.
“And I will also want to assure the families of departed colleagues that they will not be forgotten. All statutory requirements and privileges for children and families they left behind would be honoured and be executed.”
Speaking further, the COAS said: “The Army is the strength of any nation. And the Army is used to rate a nation in the international arena.
“I want to thank the executive governor of Borno state for his continued support to the Nigeria Army in pursuance of Operation Zaman Lafiya and in this particular case of also hosting the Nigeria Army Day Celebration 2015. This has come with a cost and logistics which the governor has undertaken.
“It is a sad ceremony but it is also a ceremony that we must undertake for we have to honour the dead, Nigeria Army Day Celebration as it is for the living, it is also for the dead, and today we are honouring the dead.”
While speaking at the occasion,the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said against all belief, Maiduguri, the state capital was not less unsafe than any other city in the country.
His words: “Believe me, at the risk of exaggerating issues, Maiduguri is as secured as Lagos or Kaduna or any other city in this country. They all face the same challenges that Maiduguri is facing and we want to pay tribute to the gallant officers and men of the Nigeria Army who have laid down their lives for this country to remain one indivisible entity.
“Hundreds of our soldiers have died in this counter-insurgency war. We have to respect our fallen soldiers, we have to pray for the repose of their souls but most importantly, we have to make their families realise that they did not die in vain.
“This singularly act of coming down to Maiduguri to celebrate the Army Day and coming to identify with us shall be written in gold.
“There is psychology in warfare and the fact that the top hierarchy of the Army are here in Maiduguri conveys a lot of message to the soldiers and to the rest of the world that Maiiduguri is safe, accessible and secured.”
The celebration also witnessed the release of 182 suspected members/associates of Boko Haram insurgents to the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, by the COAS and the award of medal of honour to officers and men of the 7th Division of the Nigeria Army said the suspects have been cleared by military authority after necessary investigations.
While handing over the suspects to Shettima at a military base, Minimah said: “We are handing over 182 detainees who were suspected to have link with Boko Haram. They are 100 men, 24 women, 40 underage boys and 18 children.
“They have been cleared, we have decided to hand them over to the Borno State Government.
“They have been thoroughly investigated and acquitted of any involvement in the activities of Boko Haram or connected with the group.”
Medals were also awarded to the injured soldiers and those killed at the battle ground were posthumously honoured with medals to commend their gallantry.