The National Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Col. Micah Gaiya (retd.), on Monday said that 100 ex-servicemen had been killed in the North-East part of the country, being ravaged by the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The legion caters for the welfare of ex-servicemen and persons who have distinguished themselves in the wars in which Nigeria has participated.
“We lost over 100 members to the current insurgency in the North East and the affected families are in dire need of help,” Gaiya said at the launch of the emblem for the 2015 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also told the audience that included President Goodluck Jonathan that only N30m had been redeemed out of the N105m pledges made by individuals and groups during a similar emblem launch held last year.
He said, “We intend to organise a special empowerment programme for the victims in the North-East zone and the Ministry of Defence will be duly briefed about the proposal in due course.
“Let me use this opportunity to honestly thank those who donated to the Nigerian Legion during the last launch.
“I however want to inform us that of the N105m pledged on December 16, 2013, in this very venue, only N30m has been redeemed to date.
“The saddest thing is that these pledges are made in the public eye, leaving us with no avenue to tell the world that such pledges have not been redeemed.
“We call with loud voice on those that have not redeemed their pledges to honourably do so.”
Gaiya appealed to those who attended the Monday event to pledge only what they could afford to redeem.
He said the appeal was necessary so that he would not be wrongly accused of embezzling the group’s money.
The Nigerian Legion chairman said the organisation had not been able to venture into the area of assisting its amputee members because of the cost implication of such an assistance.
Jonathan at the event directed his Chief of Staff, Brig.-Gen. Jones Arogbofa, to get the list of those who had not redeemed their pledges with a view to facilitate payments.
He admitted that his office should be blamed for the unredeemed pledges because most of the donors were friends of the government.
While saying that the country had remained united despite its challenges because of the sacrifices made by its military personnel, Jonathan urged Nigerians to always appreciate ex-servicemen.
He said, “We salute and appreciate the courage and sacrifices of men and women of our armed forces in grappling with the wave of terrorism in some parts of our dear country.
“They have displayed unalloyed loyalty and commitment to Nigeria. In their demanding task to keep Nigeria one and united, some of our gallant officers and men have lost their lives.
“To these officers and men we pay tribute and pray fervently for the repose of their souls.”
Gaiya later decorated Jonathan; former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; and Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ahmed Mohammed, with the emblem.
Vice President Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; and all former military Heads of State were absent at the event. Punch