Campaign group, Bring Back Our Girls, on Saturday held a commemorative event to honour Nigerian soldiers who have been killed in the fight against Boko Haram.
The event which comprised a meeting and candle-lit vigil, saw pictures of the fallen soldiers printed on banners, similar to what the group has done for the missing Chibok schoolgirls, hoisted at the venue where the group usually meets in Abuja.
Ayisha Yesufu, a member of the Bring Back Our Girls group, paid tribute to the soldier saying: “Today as we start this we hope that this will be the beginning of something great. We hope that this will be the beginning of us knowing that we must stand with the families of our heroes. We must be there.”
She assured the families of the slain soldiers that they “will no longer be left in the background” adding that “our soldiers at the front will know that as a nation, we are solidly behind them. As a nation we will do everything that we can to ensure that they not only protect the nation, but also to protect themselves”
The event was also used to recognize the sacrifices made by the soldiers and to rekindle the spirit of patriotism among Nigerians.
“The truth is that every time we see a Nigerian soldier courageously lay their lives on the line for our country and people, we must stop to recognize that gallantry and that’s exactly what we are doing today,” explained Obiageli Ezekwesili, leader of the Bring Back Our Girls group.
The activities of Boko Haram group, which is on a quest to introduce sharia law in northern Nigeria have affected the livelihoods of people in that part of the country, particularly those in Chibok, from where the group abducted over 200 schoolgirls in 2014.
Activist Dr. Allen Manasseh, who speaks on behalf of Chibok residents also paid tribute to the soldiers.
“They stayed away from their loved ones and families and missed every significant thing in their lives and sacrificed their lives just so that we can have a peaceful sleep. May they all be in the best part of heaven. There is no hero more than a soldier,” he said.
Boko Haram’s insurgency which began in 2009 has left some 20,000 people dead and displaced some 2. 5 million others.
The group which has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State has over the past few years extended its activities to the Lake Chad region.