By Sumaila Ogbaje/Yahaya Isah in Abuja
Army Chief of Staff, Lt- Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other officers, who died in the crashed NAF aircraft in Kaduna Friday, were buried in Abuja Saturday.
Family members, friends, colleagues and sympathisers wept uncontrollably as their remains were laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery Abuja.
The interment followed funeral services at the National Mosque and Nigerian Air Force Protestant Church, after the bodies were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The officers died on Friday, in a Beechcraft 350 aircraft at the Kaduna International Airport.
The burial ceremony started around 2.50 pm with a tribute of the late COAS read.
Tributes of other officers were also read. One of the officers reading a tribute to one of the fallen soldiers burst out crying midway.
A moment of silence was observed after which the fallen officers were honoured with a 21-gun salute.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, at the funeral, eulogised the late Attahiru and other officers, who died with him
Buhari said that the late army chief was a dedicated and committed officer, who died when his services were most needed.
He said that late Attahiru had demonstrated a high level of commitment as well as inspired courage and confidence in the officers and soldiers of Nigerian army.
“Today is indeed a trying moment for the Nigerian army and indeed the armed forces of our country, a period that witnessed the death of 11 brave officers and men of the armed forces in an ill-fated plane crash in Kaduna.
“These were absolute gentlemen and were one of the most disciplined officers and men who sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation and they will never be forgotten.
“These fine gentlemen had a glorious career in the armed forces in the course of which they served gallantly in several capacities,” he said.
Buhari promised to ensure that the contribution of the deceased officers to the unity, peace and security of Nigeria would be remembered.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who titled his remarks, “Love for Country” said that the demise of the late army chief was a monumental loss to the armed forces and Nigeria in general.
Irabor, who recounted their thoughts on how to move the armed forces forward, said they were together at the Training and Doctrine Command when their appointments were announced.
He said Attahiru was on his way to the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria for the passing out parade of regular recruits slated for Saturday before the sad incident happened.
“He had a distinguished career and a privilege of commanding with distinction along the tactical, operational and strategic levels of military engagements in the Nigerian army.
“He was truly a fine officer and a gentleman, he has left us at a time when he is most needed, a time that is gone forever,” he said.
At the mosque, the Chief Iman, Dr Ahmad Onilewura, urged everyone to be mindful of death, adding that “it is only God that knows when and how anyone would die”.
He prayed for the souls of the departed to find peace in eternity.
In attendance at the funeral was the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who was a retired Brigadier General.
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, governors of Borno, Kaduna, Kebbi and Yobe and other service chiefs, also attended.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, among others witnessed the event