Family Confirms Akhigbe’s Death

•Akhigbe

•The late Akhigbe

•The late Akhigbe
•The late Akhigbe

Former Chief of General Staff, Mike Okhai Akhigbe, is dead, family sources Tuesday morning confirmed to P.M.NEWS.

He died last night in the United States of America at about 7 p.m. local time after a protracted battle with cancer.

Sources said a condolence register has been opened at his residence in Fugar, Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, southern Nigeria.

This finally lays to rest all the controversies and confusion surrounding his death in the past two days.

A family source informed P.M.NEWS that a close friend of the naval admiral who lives in London, phoned in last night to say that Akhigbe died last night at about 7 p.m. Nigerian time.

The former second in command to former military ruler, General Abdusalami Abubakar, had for several months been out of the country for medical treatment.

A close family source who spoke to P.M.NEWS on condition of anonymity, had Monday dispelled rumours of his death as reported by a national newspaper and other online media.

The Nigerian Navy also issued a statement Monday debunking the death of Akhigbe.

The  Senate President  David Mark in a statement on Monday night described his death as the loss of “a brother, confidant, friend and comrade-at-arms.”

Mark also recalled their days together  at the Nigerian Defence Academy, saying that “Mike was fearless and very diligent in our course. He took these attributes to all the formations where he was privileged to have been posted either in his core military postings or political offices.

“He was one of the poster boys of our Course 3 and we were all very proud of him. His death is a huge personal loss to me, the members of Course 3, the Armed Forces, Edo State and the nation.”

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Mark, who is the Chairman of Course 3 Alumni of the Nigerian Defence Academy, also said: “But we cannot question God. He alone gives life and takes it when he so desires. We are bound by his decision to take our brother and friend at this time. We are however consoled that while Mike was with us, he lived his life in the service of God and mankind. May the Lord grant all of us the fortitude to bear this very painful departure.”

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Akhigbe’s death as another colossal loss to Nigeria at a point the country had needed his private counsel to deal with its current challenges.

Atiku Abubakar took over as Vice President from Akhigbe, who as Chief of General Staff was second in command to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, played a key role in that  regime’s programme for return to democratic rule in 1999.

Reacting to Akhigbe’s death in a statement by his media office in Abuja, Atiku recalled that Akhigbe’s remarkable contributions to Nigeria’s transition from military to civil rule, which lasted nine months, could not be easily forgotten.

According to him, the late Akhigbe was part of the team that contributed to the successful and faithful transfer of power to civilians on 29 May, 1999.

In Atiku’s words, “even from a distance, the late Chief of Naval Staff would come across as a cultivated gentleman. He was a broadminded and patriotic officer par excellence.”

Atiku Abubakar prayed to God to grant his family the fortitude to bear the great loss.

Akhigbe hailed from Fugar in Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, southern Nigeria.

He served as the military Vice President of Nigeria during the General Abdusalami Abubakar-led military government from 1998 till the termination of military government in Nigeria in May 1999.

Akhigbe had also previously served as Military Governor of Nigeria’s Ondo State and Lagos State, after which he was appointed Chief of Naval Staff, the highest-ranking officer of the Nigerian Navy.

—Jethro Ibileke/Warri