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Slain Army Officers Laid Down Lives for Nigeria’s Safety, Christian Leaders Eulogize

Image of the wrecked aircraft that crashed on May 21 near Kaduna International Airport/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Christian leaders in Nigeria are mourning the country’s Chief of Army Staff and ten other military officers who died in a plane crash last Friday, May 21, saying the deceased security officials sacrificed their lives for the safety of the West African nation. 

The Nigeria Air Force plane crash that happened near Kaduna International Airport was “due to inclement weather”, the leadership of the Army said in a May 22 Facebook post

In a statement issued Sunday, May 23, Church leaders under their common forum of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) say the military officers “laid down their lives in order to keep our nation safe and secure from the aggression of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements in our nation.”

“While our hearts are filled with sorrow for the supreme price they paid, we acknowledge with a sense of gratitude to them, their selfless services to all of us in the nation,” CAN officials who include representatives from the Catholic Church in the West African country say. 

On board the military King Air 350 plane that crashed during an official trip to Kaduna State was Ibrahim Attahiru who was appointed in January by President Muhammadu Buhari to command the country’s Army as part of the restructuring of the military command amid surging violence in the country. 

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In the May 23 statement, Nigeria’s Christian leaders say they are “genuinely concerned” about the plane crash and call on the authorities to take “adequate measures” so as to avoid aviation accidents in the future. 

The May 21 fatal plane crash comes three months after another Nigerian air force plane crashed outside Abuja Airport, reportedly due to engine failure. The crash claimed the lives of seven passengers on board. 

In the statement signed by CAN’s National Secretary, Daramola Bade Joseph, Christian leaders in Nigeria say, “It is high time thorough investigations are carried out with a view to ascertaining the immediate and remote causes of these recurrent disasters and address the causes decisively and squarely.”

“We cannot continue to lose our finest military and security officers to air disasters without treating the situation as a national emergency,” they say, adding that there is need to “ascertain that all military aircraft are fit to fly and that the training of the flight officers is excellent.” 

“We pray that this type of national tragedy will never occur again,” CAN officials say and condole with the President and the families “affected by their painful exit, fortitude and comfort of the Holy Spirit to bear the loss.”

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The Church leaders also call on the country’s leadership to ensure that the dependants of the departed military officials are provided with “adequate care … so that they might be proud eternally of the nation the deceased served.”

Meanwhile, the Church leaders have called on the international community “to come to the aid of our country to end the menace of insecurity occasioned by criminals manifesting as kidnappers, bandits and terrorists before they take over the country or turn it into a battleground.”

They reiterate their call to all Christians in the West African nation to join the three days of national prayer to end insecurity in their country.

“We call on all Nigerians to join us in CAN on May 28-30 to pray to God in the attitude of mourning and soberness for the unprecedented shedding of innocent blood in our nation and to pray to God for his quick intervention in our situation so that normalcy might return,” they say in the May 23 statement. 

They implore the Lord to help Africa’s most populous nation surmount obstacles toward lasting peace in the country saying, “We pray that evil will not overcome us in Nigeria and that Nigeria shall overcome all her challenges in Jesus’ name.”

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