One hundred and two ex-Biafran soldiers granted presidential pardon have been captured for payment of gratuity and other emolument by the Military Pension Board, Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi (rtd), has disclosed.
Explaining why only 102 of the war veterans were captured for the payment, Magashi said the war ended 51 years ago and many of those involved are no more alive.
He however urged those with genuine complaints to come forward with their claims for consideration.
Magashi spoke at the ministerial briefing to flag-off the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the Army War College
According to him: “Payment of pensions and gratuities to retired military personnel is now prompt and regular.
“In line with the anti-corruption stand of the present administration, the Ministry of Defence in conjunction with the Military Pension Board conducts regular verification exercise for Military pensioners. The exercise is intended to streamline and check leakages in the system.
“It will interest you to know that the Military Pension Board just concluded the documentation of ex-Biafran service personnel totaling 102 who were pardoned by Mr. President.
“The Ministry would continue to engage the pensioners through relevant organs like the Nigerian Legion, the Veteran Affairs Division and the Military Pension Board to ensure that Government obligations to them are met”.
Restating the significance of the Armed Forces Day Celebration, the Minister explained that “the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration is organized annually by the Ministry of Defence to honour our fallen heroes who laid down their lives in service to humanity during the First and Second World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War, Peace Support Operations and various Internal Security Operations particularly the current war against terrorism that is threatening the corporate existence of our dear fatherland.
“As we remember our fallen heroes, we also appreciate the challenges being faced by the loved ones they left behind, and who have indelible loving memories of their departed bread winners in their hearts. The Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration helps to reassure the families and relations of the fallen combatants that the nation will continue to be with them in paying respect to their departed relations.
“The celebration re-affirms the fact that their death was not in vain. It is also an avenue to encourage and appreciate Service personnel for their invaluable sacrifice to our fatherland.
” The celebration will further afford us an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made in the current war against insurgency by our Service personnel in maintaining national peace and security”.
Magashi added,l: “It is worthy to mention that the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration is not unique to Nigeria alone. It is a very important event that is celebrated and observed globally.
“It would be recalled that in the past, Nigeria, like other member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations used to hold the Celebration on the Eleventh Day of November every year to honour members of the Armed Forces who died during the First and Second World Wars.
“Going down through memory lane, it is understood that World War officially ended at the 11 hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month (November) 1918. However, in order to reflect our own peculiar historical experience as a nation, 15 January of every year was selected as the date to observe the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration to commemorate the end of the Nigerian Civil War.
“The Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration 2022 is significant at this moment when the military is working relentlessly to motivate its force and enhance the will of our troops to fight and overcome the various security challenges in the country. Currently, members of the Armed Forces are more determined now than ever to confront and end the menace of terrorism in the North East Region and other security challenges facing our great country, Nigeria. This is evident in the ongoing mass surrendering of Boko Haram fighters in the region and successes being recorded by our gallant military personnel against bandits in the North West particularly in Zamfara and Katsina States.
“The contributions of members of the Armed Forces towards the return of peace to troubled spots in our country cannot be overemphasized. The nation remains eternally grateful to our gallant men and women who paid the supreme price for our survival and unity. Thus, the Federal Government looks forward to all our dear citizens in both the public and private sectors to support our veterans and the families of our fallen heroes tremendously. This is the time to also remember those who have been incapacitated in various operations conducted by our military, and to contribute towards rehabilitating them.
“To all our forces and legionnaires, I urge you to take pride in the patriotic sacrifice you are making for the nation. You are all part of a force that is highly admired and respected both at home and abroad. To the husbands, wives, children and loved ones of our military, this is a step to recognize the sacrifices you make every day and for this nation to reaffirm its commitments to you”.