A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has called for an independent inquiry into the report by the World Street Journal (WSJ) on secret graveyards purportedly maintained by the military in Borno State.
The U.S.-based publication had reported on Thursday that at least 1000 soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents were buried in hidden graveyards, most of them without the knowledge of family members.
In a swift reaction, the Defence Headquarters denied the report which it described as sacrilegious.
The Director of Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement said the author of the report was uninformed.
Hours after the report emerged, Atiku expressed shock that such a thing could happen under a democratic government.
“Nigeria must ensure prudent use of finances, so we can redistribute national resources in such a way that ensures that our military and security forces are well armed and well remunerated.
“Even the death of one soldier affects me. But the alleged cover-up of the deaths of one thousand soldiers is a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria,” he said in a statement.
The former vice president asked the Federal Government to get to the root of the matter by constituting a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate it.
He also urged that a team of former military officers be set up to assess and report to Nigerians the true state of the ongoing war against terror in the North-east.
According to Atiku, the team will make recommendations as to what must be done to ensure Nigeria brings a speedy end to the insurgency.
He said, “The men and women of our armed forces are our first, second and last defence against our domestic and foreign enemies and should be treated with love, respect, dignity and appreciation for the invaluable service they render to Nigeria.
“I cannot fathom that in the space of a year, 1000 of these great patriots were killed and buried secretly without their families being told.
“I hesitate to believe that deceit on such a grand scale is even possible.”