ImagePresident Bola Tinubu led a solemn ceremony on Wednesday, honoring 17 gallant Nigerian military personnel who were gruesomely murdered on March 14 in the Okuoma village of Delta State while on a peace mission.

The soldiers from the 181 Amphibious Battalion, including the commanding officer, two majors, one captain and 12 other personnel, were killed by vicious criminals during a communal land dispute in the riverine area.

At the National Military Cemetery in Abuja, Tinubu joined governors, federal lawmakers, military top brass, dignitaries and families of the fallen heroes to pay final respects by laying wreaths on their caskets.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Taoreed Lagbaja, mourned the “gallant heroes,” condemning the “most barbaric” act of their killers – the very citizens they tried to protect. He vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice and recover all missing weapons.

Lagbaja revealed the Army now cares for 10 widows, three of them pregnant, 21 orphans and many dependents left behind by the slain soldiers. “The Nigerian Army and the good people of this country will not leave them in the cold,” he assured.

President Tinubu announced national honors for the fallen, awarding the four officers the Members of the Order of Nigeria and the 13 soldiers the Officers of the Federal Republic medals.

He also approved scholarships for all children of the deceased, including the unborn, as well as houses for their families anywhere in Nigeria. The military was given 90 days to pay all benefits to the families.

“They won’t go unpunished. We will find them, and our departed heroes will get justice,” Tinubu vowed, promising to hunt down those responsible for the heinous act he called an attack on the nation.

The beheaded and mutilated corpses of the soldiers were recovered days after the attack, drawing widespread condemnation. The Senate, Delta State and civil society groups have called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

After the wreath-laying ceremony and funeral rites, the 17 gallant military personnel were laid to rest at around 6pm amidst tears and tributes for their selfless sacrifice in serving the nation.