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The presidency seems to have finally hinted on why Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was absent at the funeral of Ibrahim Attahiru, deceased chief of army staff, and 10 other military officers who died in an air crash.
Attahiru, a lieutenant general, and 10 other officers were laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja on Saturday, a day after they died in a military plane crash.
They died in the crash that occurred in Kaduna on Friday while on official assignment to Zaria in Kaduna State – They were travelling to the Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria for the passing out parade of regular recruits slated for Saturday.
Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesman, in an Arise TV programme on Tuesday said the president does not like “this idea of closing roads, security men molesting people on the road” whenever he is out for an event outside Aso Rock.
The Islamic funeral service was held at the National Mosque, Abuja for the late army chief and five others who were Muslims while the Christian funeral services burial rites were held at the Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church, Abuja for the officers who were Christians.
The Presidential Villa Abuja is less than a 5 minutes drive to the National Mosque Abuja where the Prayers initially funeral had held, the President has come under criticisms from Nigerians mostly on social media for failing to show up at the funeral of the Army chief and other officers who died in the plane crash in Kaduna.
When asked to speak on the matter during an Arise TV programme on Tuesday, Shehu said although he has not spoken with Buhari on the matter, the president’s dislike for the closure of roads could be the reason for his action.
He said: “I was in Europe myself on assignment and I have not spoken to the president on this but let me give you just one example: The president is somebody who is so concerned about the safety and wellbeing of ordinary Nigerians on the streets.Advertisement
“Do you know why he now prays his Jumaat in the state house and doesn’t go to the national mosque? Because he doesn’t like this idea of closing roads, security men molesting people on the road for the president to have the right of way.
“These are small things for many people but they are important for President Muhammadu Buhari. So, it is a mourning situation and the president didn’t want to take away attention from that.”
After the criticisms, President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday declared three days mourning for the late Chief of Arny Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, who died in the crash of a military plane in Kaduna on Friday, with some other military officers. The late COAS, Attahiru, and 10 other officers who died in the military plane crash in Kaduna were committed to the mother earth on Saturday at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, in a statement on Sunday, indicated that President Buhari has directed that the national flag be flown at half-mast in all public buildings, facilities, and official residence across the country. He added that the directive is with effect from Monday to Wednesday.
The SGF explained that the presidential directive was to honour the memory and services of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, as well as the senior military officers and service members who died in a plane crash on Friday.