The immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, says his successor, Ibrahim Attahiru, was on the verge of making the nation proud before his tragic death.
Mr Buratai, an ambassador-designate, in his tribute to late Mr Attahiru, said he was making tremendous progress in the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts when the tragedy occurred.
He described the incident as tragic to all Nigerians and peace-loving people, adding that Mr Attahiru and the officers that died with him were top-level officers whose records of service were meritorious.
According to him, the unfortunate incident deeply saddens him as it robbed Nigeria of the services of Mr Attahiru who had left no one in doubt as regards his determination to succeed in the various military operations across the country.
“He was on the verge of making the nation proud in the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts when this tragedy occurred. I do not doubt his ability as he had served under me in various capacities and was well-grounded for the job with active support and collaboration of his colleagues.
“I was deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the passing away of my immediate successor, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, the Acting Chief of Military Intelligence, Acting Provost Marshal (Army), his Chief of Staff, the Aide-de-Camp and the Acting Deputy Director Finance in the office of the COAS, his Orderly, as well as the pilots and crew in an air crash on May 21 at Kaduna Airport.
“I would like to, on behalf of my family, reiterate my deepest sympathy and condolences to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Federal Republic of Nigeria, the families of the deceased, the Honourable Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Air Staff, gallant officers, soldiers and airmen of the Armed Forces of Nigeria over the passing away of these courageous, loyal and patriotic Nigerians in line of duty,” he said.
Mr Buratai urged the armed forces to close ranks and make sure that the legacy of the officers lives on by consolidating on the gains made in the various operations.
According to him, they gave their lives in the line of duty and patriotic service to the nation.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these great heroes. May the Almighty Allah grant them eternal rest,” he said.