Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom yesterday consoled President Muhammadu Buhari and apologised to the families of the 12 soldiers killed by local bandits at Bonta village in Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State last week.
The remains of the 12 fallen heroes were yesterday laid to rest at the Military Cemetery, Wurukum in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Eleven soldiers and one officer, Captain Adeolu Adebayo were killed while on a peace mission to the troubled Bonta Village in Benue State on Easter Monday.
In his oration, Ortom condoled with Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff over the death of twelve military personnel.
Ortom also apologised to the families of the slain soldiers.
The governor vowed that his government would collaborate with security agencies to ensure that all the perpetrators of the act were apprehended and brought to book.
The governor regretted the soldiers had to die in the hands of the militias while trying to maintain peace in the troubled areas in the state.
"I condole with Mr. President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chief of Army Staff and indeed the leadership of our security forces in the country.
"On behalf of government and people of Benue State, we condemn the killing of our innocent soldiers who were out there to keep peace in our state.
"It is unfortunate that this incident took place. I want the Nigerian army, the families of the deceased and indeed all Nigerians to know that the attack on security personnel is an attack on all.
"This attack was unwarranted, it was not needed because all these patriotic soldiers were there to keep peace and that was why they were ambushed. Otherwise, we all know what soldiers can do and the capacity they have to defend themselves
"So we condemn this and we want to assure everyone that my government will join hands with the security forces to ensure that all those who perpetrated this sad act are brought to book.
"I equally want to apologize to the bereaved families. In the course of my trying to manage this challenge, if I said anything that was offensive to the families of the deceased, I want to say that I am sorry.
"As a leader, I needed to say something, the people needed to hear from me, and as at the time that I made the comment that it was two soldiers that were missing, it was based on the information that was made available to me.
"But all the same, please I am sorry. It is the responsibility of this government to also join hands with the leadership of the army to see how we can support the bereaved families. May God reset their peaceful souls," Governor Ortom said.
Among those present at the burial were Commander of Operation Whirl Stroke, Maj. Gen. Adeyemi Yekini; the Commanding Officer, 72 Battalion, military personnel as well as family members of the deceased soldiers.
At the funeral service conducted by Chaplain of 73 Battalion, Major Ibrahim Mavisky and the Imam, Captain AA Bashir, the duo stressed that there was time for everything under the sun, including "time to be born and time to die; we brought nothing to this world and we shall surely leave with nothing."
They noted that the fallen heroes were peacemakers who went out not for evil but for peace and regrettably met their death in the process.
"These people died innocently and without any offence. It is the promise of God that each of us has a stipulated time to go. We will all go back to God someday and explain how we lived our lives. God will console the entire Nigerian Army and the immediate families they left behind
"The slain soldiers were out to serve the nation but were cut short. We, therefore, pray for their souls and that God should grant them eternal rest," they said.