Nigerian military on Thursday described the Wall Street Journal’s report that it buried bodies of more than 1000 Nigerian troops in secret graves in the northeast of the country as “uninformed”.
“It must be unambiguously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and profanity to extant ethos and traditions of the Nigerian military,” DHQ spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement.
Wall Street Journal, citing diplomatic sources, a senior government official, families of some dead troops and a soldier stationed at Maimalari Barrack in Borno State, said the soldiers killed by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West African Province insurgents were buried in unmarked graves at night.
It said the more than 1000 soldiers were killed between the summer of 2018 when ISWAP began its attacks on military targets and 2019.
ISWAP still claimed it attacked Nigerian troops in two attacks earlier this week.
The WSJ report gained traction in Nigeria more than 24 hours after the Nigerian government said it has defeated the “real Boko Haram”.
Former Nigerian Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said the claims in the report must be investigated so that Nigerians can know “the true state of the war on terror.”
“I cannot fathom that in the space of a year, scores of these great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told,” Atiku Abubakar said. “I hesitate to believe that deceit on such a grand scale is even possible.”
But Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters said there were no secret burials or graves. It insisted that troops that were killed by the insurgents were buried in “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, gravesite oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites,” Nwachukwu.
He said the gravesite described in the Wall Street Journal is an official military cemetery of the Nigerian Army with identifiable military presence.
“It is, therefore, a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by “Wall Street Journal,” the DHQ spokesman said.