By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Nigerian Army has said that Col. Ibrahim Saka died in the war against terrorism, describing his death as painful.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement issued to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, however dismissed claims by the widow of the late Sakaba, Mrs Oluwaseun Sakaba, that her husband was assassinated.
The widow had alleged that her husband, Sakaba was killed for refusing to loot funds meant for fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
But the Director, Army Public Relations, dismissed the allegation saying that, “the late senior officer’s widow was quoted to have made several uncomplimentary comments about the institution of the Nigerian Army.
He said that the widow was making reference to an unfounded and baseless claims devoid of any fact.
“While the Nigerian Army is not interested in joining issues with anyone with respect to the enormous sacrifices made daily by our gallant troops, it is however expedient to address the weighty allegations credited to the widow.
“The Nigerian Army acknowledges the emotional agony associated with loosing loved ones and that cannot be quantified by any unit of measure,” he said.
The Army spokesman said the demise of Sakaba, like those of other officers and soldiers that paid the supreme price in the war against terrorism in the North East, was a painful one to Nigerian Army.
He said that the men and women died serving the nation, fighting to restore peace and stability in the North East.
This, according to him, is in tandem with the constitutional mandate of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
He said that it would be totally a mischief and an assault on the psyche of the fighting troops to begin to insinuate any plot against one of its own.
“And what is the plot here? That troops were led by their commander for an operational engagement is not a plot, as anyone may want to insinuate.
“Rather, it was a clear military mission with clear objective.
“It is however disheartening that this gallant officer and some of his men paid the supreme price in the operation and we pray fervently for the repose of their souls.
“Col. Sakaba was a respected senior officer who gave his all in the defence of the freedom we all enjoy today.
“His demise is a great loss to all of us. Insinuating anything contrary is a deservice to our nation and the sacrifices of our troops,” he said.
On the issue of entitlements, Nwachukwu said that available records revealed that the late officer had his son, Samuel Ibrahim Sakaba as the next of kin and the only child.
He said that all entitlements meant to be paid by the Nigerian Army had been paid to the son through Mrs Sakaba.
He said that as at the time his entitlements were processed, Samuel was less than six years as such, he was not benefiting from army school sponsorship.
“However now that he has reached the required age, he has been captured for payment of school sponsorship which will commence any moment from now.
“The Nigerian Army will continue to sponsor the child’s education up to graduation from university, as long as he fulfils the requirements outlined in the rules guiding the scheme.
“The only entitlement owed Mrs Sakaba is the Group Life Assurance which is normally paid by the Insurance Company and which would soon be received along with that of other deceased personal,” he said.
Nwachukwu said that Nigerian Army had put in place various welfare programmes for troops and their families, saying it took welfare of her troops seriously.
He added that army leadership had made the welfare of troops, one of the cardinal pillars of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS’) vision.
According to him, this is visible in the various welfare programmes embarked upon in addition to those that are statutorily emplaced.
“There are also well established communication channels with families of deceased personnel.
“Army under the leadership of the COAS, will continue to pursue the welfare of troops who are working round the clock to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians.
“The Nigeria army will not be deterred, but remain focused in its pursuit of excellence and in ensuring that all Nigerians enjoy their God-given right to live freely anywhere in Nigeria,” he said.