There was a slight disagreement on Saturday between the family of the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, and the Nigerian Army over the COAS’ burial.
The disagreement led to a short delay of the COAS’ interment as his family insisted that he must be buried without a coffin in accordance with Islamic injunction.
But some senior army officers argued that Attahiru’s remains would be buried according to military traditions.
After some time, the family was convinced by the superior arguments and the grave was widened to accommodate the coffin.
Attahiru and 10 other military officers were involved in a crash on Friday at the Kaduna International Airport.
It was reported that the aircraft conveying the military officers, with registration number 5N-R203, was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in the Mando area of Kaduna but diverted to land at the civil airport due to inclement weather.
Apart from Attahiru, other victims were Brigadier Generals Ahmed Kuliya, O Olayinka, and MI Abdulkadir; Majors N Hamza, LA Hayat; Sergeants O Adesina, and Umar; as well as Aircraftman OM Oyedepo, Flt Lt TO Asaniyi, and Flt Lt AA Olufade.
Deceased’s wife, sister collapsed amid untimely farewell
It was a sombre moment as the remains of the COAS, Attahiru, and 10 others were interred at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja on Saturday, in full military honours 24 hours after the incident.
Military officers in ceremonial dress with black band tied around their arms trooped into the cemetery to pay their last respects.
The burial ceremony was overseen by the Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army, led by its Commander, Brig Gen Takuti Usman.
It commenced with the arrival of senior retired and serving officers and other government officials, including a former COAS, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
Others present at the cemetery were the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai; the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; members of the diplomatic corps, and others.
Meanwhile, as the ceremony was underway, a sister of one of the deceased officers collapsed around 4.12pm and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with registration number, NDC160.
The wife of one of the late officers who also fainted was revived and whisked away in a sport-utility vehicle.
The remains of the Beachcraft 350 aircraft occupants were buried at the National Military Cemetery located on the Shehu Yar’Adua Road (also called Airport Road), in the Federal Capital Territory.
The deceased officers’ final journey on Saturday started from Kaduna, where the crash occurred.
Their corpses were airlifted and received at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 11am by senior military officers.
The remains were thereafter conveyed in ambulances amidst tight security to where funeral services were held for them.
The corpses of victims who were Muslims were driven to the National Mosque, Abuja, where Salāt al-Janāzah prayer was held in their honour, while the bodies of the Christian victims were taken to the Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church located inside the Air Force Base for their funeral service.