Our close shaves with death – Retiring Military personnel

·We misplaced 407 colleagues in a set

·Personnel lacking inside bush throughout operation

·How insurgents posed as colleagues to launch assault

By Evelyn Usman

June, 19, 2020. As early as 8am, they had been already seated inside Buhari Hall, on the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre , Oshodi, Lagos, awaiting the arrival of the Special Guest of Honour,  Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar.

While a few of them had been misplaced in reverie, others exchanged banters, from their social distance sitting association.

From the expressions on their faces, it was apparent they’d lengthy waited  for the  day to come back. Unfortunately, a few of  their colleagues who additionally appeared ahead to that day, had destiny dictate in any other case.

The event was the Passing Out Ceremony of   Military personnel of Course 01/20, drawn from the Nigerian Army , Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Airforce.

Thirty-five years in the past, they took an  oath to put down their lives if want be, and to go wherever  by land, air or sea, in safety of the sovereignty and strategic curiosity of Nigeria,  as demanded.

407 personnel die

About 750 of them had been enlisted into the Military in 1985. However, alongside the road,  half  of the quantity, died both in the midst of  defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria, or by means of  pure causes.

In this interview with a few of them, they  gave chilling accounts of their face-to-face encounter with enemies of the nation  and people of different struggle torn international locations.

While a few of them had totally different medals hooked up to their left breast pockets,

to indicate for his or her participation in numerous wars, the feat , nevertheless, left  indelible scars and disfigured physique elements , as reminiscences of their sojourn within the navy.

Hear them:

According to Olateju Sunday, a Master Warrant Officer ,  ” These 35 years are indescribable. I didn’t count on that I might spend  as much as this 12 months within the Army, however as a result of God has destined me to be there,  I used to be in a position  to scale by means of regardless of the hurdles. There had been instances  when  I used to be sober over my  colleagues demise”.

“Asked what number of colleagues he has misplaced, he replied, I can’t let you know all.   But  we  had been 750 that  began in 1985, however  343 are passing out at present.  So,  in case you subtract the quantity from these alive,  you must know that it’s the grace of God that noticed us by means of.

Disguise to assault

“I participated within the United Nations  ECOMOG operation  in Liberia, Sudan, Sierra-Leone  and  different international locations. The expertise  I can always remember, was through the struggle in opposition to Boko Haram sect within the North-East.

”On that fateful day, exactly in 2014, Boko Haram members  disguised as pleasant forces by flying the Nigerian flag  on their helicopter. Our  Commandant thought the helicopter  was  our  colleagues’  that had been coming to offer us help. Instead of touchdown in entrance of us, the helicopter   landed behind us.

“ As they had been touchdown,  they launched smoke bomb in order that we  wouldn’t have the ability to see them, till  they might have the ability to take over.  When  they took over, they began taking our hearth powers, which had been our supporting weapons, on the sector.  We  began shedding a few of our folks.

“ Even within the face of that confrontation, we didn’t rooster out , we needed to  struggle with the   final  ounce of  blood .We didn’t quit till  we had been capable of overcome them.

“My advice to those still in service is that they should be prayerful. Tactics or no tactics, it’s God that saves lives. Somebody can die from the left or right  sides, or  even near or far from you, it’s only God that  will  not allow the bullet  targeted at them to penetrate. They should   not  try to leave training, because  it’s not the day you are in the war front that you’re supposed to prepare for  war. You  prepare for war in  peace time so that when war comes, you are not scared to do anything”.

I joined Army at 23

For Master Warrant Officer Adeshina Peters, who was 60 years outdated  on Monday, he mentioned he joined the Nigerian Army at 23.

Though he described his 35 years within the Military as difficult, he boasted that he would encourage his youngsters to affix the Military  in the event that they confirmed curiosity.  Like others, he shared  his shut shave with demise.

He mentioned, “ I’ ve had shut shave with enemy forces. That was January 15, 2015, in Kangarowa,   the Lake Chad area.

We had been at our defence. Normally, the enemy assaults as  from 4pm until 8pm. So, if we had been within the warfront, we all the time noticed that  time.

On that fateful day, we noticed them coming proper from our remark submit. Everybody acquired into the ditch to put on our fragmental jackets. Then ,  they began shelling, as they had been shelling, they had been advancing and we had been returning hearth. I used to be 30 to  45 meters near them. How I managed to flee stays a miracle until date.

Colleagues die, lacking in bushes  

On his half, Army Warrant officer, Sadam Ezekiel, was stuffed with reward to God Almighty  for the privilege of being amongst  those that have  struggle tales to share.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Air Force promotes 14 Air Vice Marshals, 50 different officers

Narrating his,  he mentioned, “There had been a lot of challenges. We swam troubled waters and peaceable atmosphere,   we skilled hardship and  rain storm.

I’ve participated in  4 wars within the  African continent. They embrace : Sudan, Mali, Liberia and Sierra-Leone, and I’ve my medals to indicate for them. Some paid the supreme value, however God helped me  triumph.

“I had  shut shave with demise in Sudan and Mali, when the enemies threw missiles to our camp, however fortuitously, it didn’t attain us. Rather, it fell of their neighboring camp.

Many folks died in our camp in Sierra-Leone.  Some had been shot and died proper  in entrance of me and by my aspect. Some colleagues acquired lacking within the bush”, Ezekiel, said.

For Warrant Officer Anyanwu Vitalice, the tales weren’t totally different. As an Electrical Electronic Engineer  with the Nigerian Navy, he mentioned the struggle he fought was primarily within the sea.

According to him:  ”Within these 34 years, I’ve skilled all of the wars you possibly can consider, each inside and out of doors the nation.  I participated   within the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram actions within the North-East  , in addition to the struggle within the south. I additionally  fought  in ECOMOG struggle in  Liberia for nearly two years.

“While the war was on, our job was to maintain all the weapons onboard and ensure    our ships were in order, in terms of being  seaworthy, operational and gun power readiness. At one time or the other, we escaped death by the whiskers through God’s grace”.

Encounter with militants

For Nandon Dashe, a naval personnel,  he mentioned he had the nice, unhealthy and ugly expertise in his area of operation. He recalled how they had been attacked by militants in the midst of making an attempt to revive peace within the Niger-Delta  area.

He mentioned he may rely 20 of his colleagues who died throughout operation .

He additionally expressed concern on the notion of the general public on Military personnel.

He mentioned, “ at times,  civilians see us as enemies, as if we are not humans.  We are  welcomed anywhere we go and  seen as people who have given their lives to serve this nation. But in Nigeria, it is always the other way round. People frown at us”.


As a part of preparation to disengage these navy personnel from  service and  reintegrate them into civilian life,  they underwent six months coaching on the NAFRC, the place they had been educated on vocational expertise that might improve significant submit service life.

The Special Guest of Honour/ Commandant of the Centre, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, whereas  congratulating them, knowledgeable that 365 of them turned up for the six-month course however that a few of them needed to be returned for numerous causes, leaving  343  of them . Unfortunately, he disclosed that  certainly one of them died final month.

He gave particular recognition to  wives and youngsters of the retiring personnel for what he described as their sacrifice, love and prayers all through the years of service.

“ Indeed, they had to bear the brunt of our absence over the years. The sacrifice is over and it is now time to return to their warm embrace”.

To the retiring personnel, the Commandant, charged them to proceed to make constructive contributions to the nation.

He reminded that “ as ambassadors of the Nigerian Armed Forces, you are to remain  dedicated , disciplined and maintain the highest level of integrity with which you have served in the past 35 years. The training you acquired is to enable you contribute positively to your various societies and thus, helping to build a greater nation”.

Some of the personnel got awards for his or her exemplary management and excellent efficiency throughout their six months keep on the centre.


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