Barring a last-minute change, the Nigerian army on Tuesday will give soldiers recently killed on the front lines fighting the insurgency a “secret and undignified burial,” several military sources told Sahara Reporters.
Last month, Boko Haram terrorists targeted and ambushed soldiers.
About three soldiers were killed Friday when the insurgents engaged the military in a four-hour battle to take control of Dikwa town in Borno state.
The attack occurred hours after Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai handed over the post of army chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.
The firefight, which began around 6:00 p.m. and lasted until about 10:00 p.m., claimed many victims, including soldiers.
On January 22, 2021, the group ambushed and machine-gunned a Nigerian Army patrol in Borno State, killing seven soldiers and injuring others. An ATV and ammunition were also captured by the gunmen.
The attack occurred barely five days after the gunmen activated seven explosive devices against a Nigerian Army convoy of armored personnel carriers and other vehicles accompanied by a foot patrol in Gorgi, Borno State.
According to the military, more than 30 soldiers were killed in the raid. The gunmen also destroyed three vehicles and an armored car.
However, an army major told SaharaReporters that military authorities had planned to hold a “secret” funeral on Tuesday for some of the dead soldiers, whose bodies are still in the mortuary.
He accused the army authorities of not opening up to their families about the fate of the fallen soldiers.
“They will be buried in a cemetery here in Maiduguri on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the military has failed to inform the families about the fate of most of these fallen soldiers. The army authorities have not yet informed the families of some of these dead soldiers whom they plan to bury tomorrow. How do you want to bury someone who the family members believe is still alive? Even those who have been informed have not received the bodies of their relatives,” he said.
A brother of one of the dead soldiers told SaharaReporters that the family learned of his death from his colleague because army authorities did not initially inform them.
He said, “The army did not inform us at first. It was one of his colleagues who told me that he had been killed by Boko Haram, so I spoke to someone from our town who is a major general. Then on Saturday night, we got a call from them telling us that he was dead. Imagine, without his colleague telling us, we wouldn’t have even been aware of it.
“We asked them how we could bring his body home for burial, but they told us that they would not release his body to us. We explained to them that it is taboo in our village to be buried in a foreign country, but they insisted that his body would not be released to us. Only later did they inform us that his next of kin and another family member should come to Maiduguri as he would be buried on Tuesday.”
In 2019, the U.S. Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that the military secretly disposed of the remains of soldiers killed by Boko Haram in unmarked mass graves.
The newspaper quoted families of fallen soldiers as saying the military was handling the tragic deaths of their loved ones in an untidy manner.
It said on the eve of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Borno, army commanders secretly moved bodies of soldiers from a mortuary to unmarked graves.
“When President Buhari visited the base in Maiduguri in November, commanders rushed to bury the bodies they had collected in the mortuary from the recent attack on the base in Metele and several others, according to several soldiers at the base,” the report said.
“They moved the bodies from the morgue to the unmarked graves under the cover of darkness.”
One soldier was quoted as saying, “We could see the searchlights and flares of the technical section as they dug the graves.”