By Emmanuel Antswen
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue on Monday condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff over the killings of 11 soldiers in Bonta Village, Konshisha Local Government Area.
He also appealed to the families of the deceased soldiers to forgive him for uncomplimentary comments he may have made in the course of the situation saying he said that based on the information available to him at that time.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one Army officer and ten soldiers were found dead after they went missing in Benue.
According to a statement by the Director Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, the attack on the troops in Benue State was unprovoked.
Speaking during the burial on Monday, Ortom also apologised to the families of the fallen heroes.
He vowed that the state government would collaborate with security agencies to ensure that all those who perpetrated the act would be fished out and brought to book
He regretted the manner in which the soldiers died in the hands of the militias while trying to ensure peace in troubled areas of the state.
“We condemn the killing of the soldiers who were out to maintain peace. Attack on security men is attack on all. The attack was uncalled for and unwarranted.
“They were out to keep peace and got killed in the process otherwise, we all know what soldiers would ordinarily do in such a situation.”he said
Ortom further appealed to the families of the deceased soldiers to forgive him for uncomplimentary comments he may have made in the course of the situation saying he said that based on the information available to him at that time.
“If I said anything that was offensive to the families, I ask for their forgiveness. I earlier said only two soldiers were involved based on the information available to me at that time.”
Conducting the funeral service, Chaplain of 73 Battalion, Maj. Ibrahim Mavisky, as well as the Imam, Capt. A.A. Bashir, agreed that there was time to be born and time to die saying, “we brought nothing to this world and we shall surely leave with nothing.”
They noted that the fallen heroes were peace makers who went out not for evil but for peace and regrettably met their death in the process.
“These people died innocently and without any offense. It is the promise of God that each of us has a stipulated time to go.
“We will all go back to God someday and explain how we live our lives. God will console the entire Nigerian Army and the immediate families they left behind.
“The slain soldiers were out to serve the nation but their lives were cut short. We therefore pray for their souls and that God should grant them eternal rest,” they said.
NAN reports that remains of the captain and 11 soldiers were committed to mother earth in the presence of the Governor, Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke OPWS, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini, the Commanding Officer, 72 Battalion, military personnel as well as family members of the deceased soldiers.
NAN further reports that following the killing of army personnel in Bonta, the military has raided over 8 neighbouring villages of Bonta in search of the militias and to recover the weapons of the killed soldiers.