Widow Demands DNA, Relations Weep as Army Buries Slain Soldiers
Amid tension, tears, and wailings from relations, the Nigerian Army, on Friday, buried 19 soldiers among those who lost their lives in a recent attack by Boko Haram insurgents at Metele, Guzamala Local Government Area, Borno.
One of the widows, who said she was not allowed to witness the burial, told newsmen in tears that she would demand a DNA test on the remains of her husband.
The Army claimed that twenty-three soldiers were killed and 31 others wounded when the insurgents attacked 157 Task Force Battalion, Metele, on November 18.
The fallen heroes, who were laid to rest at the Military Cemetery, Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri, were Lieutenant-Colonel I. A. Sakaba and 18 soldiers.
Muslim and Christian chaplains officiated at the burial.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, described the incident as tragic, noting that the soldiers sacrificed their lives in defense of the nation’s territorial integrity.
Represented by Chief, Army Training and Operations, Major-General Lamidi Adeosun, Buratai announced that the deceased soldiers would be buried when their relatives arrived in Maiduguri.
He said that the army lost some troops and equipment due to an upsurge in insurgents’ activities in recent months.
He, however, said that the setback would not deter the troops from their commitment to defeating the insurgents.
Buratai reiterated the determination of the Nigerian Army to end insurgency; protect lives and property as well as restore peace to the North-East.
He said the military authorities would take care of the families of the deceased in line with its welfare scheme and prayed for the repose of their souls.
“President Muhammad Buhari administration’s is committed to the improvement of soldiers’ welfare and provision of equipment to ensure successful campaign against the Boko Haram insurgents.
“The military will collaborate with sister security organizations in the counter-insurgency operation,” he said and called on the troops to be disciplined and not relent in routing remnants of the insurgents.
According to him, the military authorities will deploy additional personnel and equipment to the theatre of operation to facilitate successful implementation of the counterinsurgency campaign.
Buratai also called on the people to shun fake news and support the military to enable it to win the war against the Boko Haram terrorists.
The deputy governor of Borno State, Alhaji Mamman Durkwa, said the state government appreciated the sacrifices of the military for the restoration of peace in the state.
Durkwa announced that the government would support the families of the fallen heroes to improve their wellbeing.
He called on the military authorities to support the bereaved families and prayed for the repose of the souls of the fallen heroes.
The ceremony was attended by senior military officers, government officials, representatives of the Shehu of Borno and family members of the deceased.
However, Lillian Ayinzat, the wife of one of the officers, said she was sad not only because her husband, Lieutenant Hyacinth John Ayinzat (N/14896), lost his life but because she was not given the privilege of witnessing the last honor given to the officers, including her husband, at the grave site.
Her husband, Lt Ayinzat, she said, was an intelligence officer with the 157 Battalion which was attacked and he had just been posted to Metele less than a month before the incident.
She claimed that the Army asked her to remain in her hotel with relations without allowing her to even see the corpse of the late young officer, to whom she was married for three years.
“We last spoke on that fateful Sunday around 2.00 p.m. He was very excited to hear us. He asked if I had gone to pay my tithe to God. We chatted about virtually everything, including her daughter. We attend COCIN and his mother had asked me to pay his tithe since he was the one working. I am not working.
“At about 6.00 p.m. that Sunday, I called back but the call did not go through. I sent a text message but it was not delivered. I became worried. Soon, I read on social media that soldiers had been attacked but I did not envisage anything bad about my husband.
“With my daughter, I had left Jaji, where we stayed, for Kaduna, to see some relations only for us to be called back to base and be besieged by sympathizers, including the army pastor, who broke the news to me and tried to console me. I cried so much.
“Lt Ayinzat placed his daughter, Safat Ayinzat, who is still a toddler, as his next of kin but is that the reason why the mother carrying a baby for the late officer was not invited to the burial ceremony? Why did they deny me the opportunity of seeing the corpse of my husband? Why did they ask me to remain locked up in the hotel room they gave me without letting me out?” she cried.
She further told Saturday Tribune that she waited all day to hear from the army authorities who invited her to Maiduguri through a letter which she waved at our reporter.
“I had been on bed rest in Jaji where we live because I am pregnant. But look at what has happened. The army pastor finally broke the news to me before I was invited to Maiduguri. But I had to report the development to my mother-in-law, Esther Ayinzat, in Jos. She has refused to believe her son is dead because there is no proof – her son’s corpse. She is driving mourners out of her home in Jos because she is yet to be shown evidence that her son is dead,” she added.
‘I want DNA test on my husband’
“They have not been fair to my husband. He was a dutiful man who loved his job. They did not do justice to us at all. They wronged us by not allowing us to see his corpse while others were brought home. How do I tell his mother that, indeed, her son is dead when they have refused to show me his corpse? Major Kwelle, a signal officer, was his boss. He came here to tell me that I could not attend the burial ceremony. They only brought a Nigerian flag to me in my hotel.
“Lt Ayinzat was the fourth of his parents’ eight children. He was one of the only two boys. He hailed from Plateau State. He has a little brother who has remained in shock. The Major said they would not allow me to come to the cemetery but everything would be sorted out in due course.
“They sent a reverend officer from Monguno to come and address us. When my in-laws became very angry about the silence of the military authorities, the reverend said the body was badly mutilated and they could not identify it. They said a soldier identified the body and it was buried there. We don’t know the location.
“I asked them to call that soldier to tell me what happened. They rather said he said they saw his name tag and they concluded that he was my husband. I don’t believe them. What if Boko Haram had taken him away and he is still alive? How do we know for sure that he is dead? That is why I want a DNA test to show that he is the one,” Lillian Ayinzat added.
Meanwhile, the army authorities have indicated that the entitlement of the late officer would soon be paid to Safat, the next of kin, through a letter which they presented to her with a death certificate.
Many men of the 157 Battalion who survived the attack were seen around the cemetery.
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