Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has called for an independent inquiry into the reported secret burial of soldiers who died in the Boko Haram war.
In a statement on Thursday, the former vice-president said it is shocking that such a thing could happen under a democratic government.
The Wall Street Journal had reported how the soldiers killed by Boko Haram insurgents are allegedly being buried in hidden graveyards, away from the eyes and pity of family and friends.
Senior government and military officials were quoted as saying a secret graveyard in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, as well as an official military cemetery in the state, hold the bodies of at least 1,000 soldiers killed while fighting the insurgents.
The former vice-president described the situation as “a national emergency that should shock all statesmen and leaders of thoughts into action to save Nigeria.”
“Shock, that such a thing could happen under a democracy, such as Nigeria is supposed to be. I shudder to think that the cover-up of such an event of epic proportions can be true,” 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.
“To ensure that we get to the bottom of this matter, I urge that a judicial commission of inquiry headed by a non-partisan and reputable jurist, be inaugurated to investigate the findings of the Wall Street Journal. While this is occurring, I also strongly urge that a panel of inquiry comprising distinguished former military officers be set up to investigate and report to Nigerians the true state of the war on terror and what must be done to ensure Nigeria brings a speedy end to the ongoing insurgency.”
Sagir Musa, spokesman of the Nigerian army, did not immediately respond to inquiries to comment on the matter.