Emotions ran wild on Friday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, as the remains of late Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, were buried.
Ikoli died in April this year, in a controversial circumstance at his official residence on No. 8B Roycroft Street, Apapa GRA, Lagos, just seven months after he was promoted from the rank of a navy commodore to that of a rear admiral.
The death of the officer born on October 2, 1965 remains controversial as many believed he was murdered. Although a report released by the police revealed that he might have shot himself.
Before his remains were taken by officers to the VIP Section of the Bayelsa State Cemetery in Yenagoa for interment, a funeral service was held in his honour at the Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall in Yenagoa.
At the funeral service, government officials, friends, colleagues and many sympathisers were in attendance to pay their tributes to the fallen senior military officer.
The Bayelsa State Government, family and friends of the deceased took turns to eulogise him, describing the late senior naval officer as a man of “strong character” who would always insist on doing the right thing no matter the pressure.
Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd), who represented Governor Seriake Dickson during the event, described Ikoli’s death as “tragic and a surprise.”
Jonah recalled working with the late naval officer, noting that he was a man with so much potential.
The deputy governor stated, “I had many opportunities of serving with him aboard the same ship like some officers here. I recall that he was posted here to Central Naval Command (in Bayelsa). I think he spent just one week.
“We had that tradition to point out officers with potential and follow them through. I knew his father in the service and I followed his career when he joined. The impression we had of him has also been attested to here today.
“He was an uncle to one of my daughters. My daughter was the second person that called me after a naval source informed me of his death. His death was tragic and a surprise. We talked a lot. Then this happened. It’s painful to the family and his course mates here.”
Jonah urged the naval authorities to uphold the tradition of taking care of families left behind by officers, stressing that it was one thing that must be maintained.
He added, “We have lost a dedicated and intelligent officer. He was both. To his course mates, let us continue with ‘onward together’, don’t turn your back on the family.
“It’s a tradition. It’s what we grew up to meet. The navy remains my traditional family. I pray you continuously have the family in mind. Make them grow to what their father would have wanted.”
Speaking, Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters, Abuja and a friend of the deceased, Rear Admiral Tom Dick, said many people found it difficult to relate with late Ikoli, because he would not bend the rules for anybody.
Dick said, “I knew late Rear Admiral Ikoli as far back as 1983. We were course mates and friends, brothers and neighbours. It is difficult to pay a tribute to Ikoli for such a short time. Ikoli had strength of character, loved by both his juniors and seniors. He was extremely hardworking.
“He put the interest of the service above his. Because of his strength of character, people found it difficult to relate with him because he won’t do things that people ordinarily expected him to do.”
In his tributes, a younger brother to the deceased senior officer, Detei Ikoli, described the death as devastating.
He said, “My elder brother lost his life so soon. We should focus on celebrating him today. He was intelligent, a friend and a perfect gentleman. He was easy-going and was dedicated to family and friends.
“We are left devastated. He loved his children. He had big dreams for his children. It’s painful his life ended so short. It will be difficult without him in this family.”
Before his demise, Ikoli was also a member of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement, which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the purchase of hardware and munitions in the Armed Forces between 2007 and 2015.
He was also the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft under the Western Naval Command in Apapa, Lagos.
After his appointment in Abuja, he was redeployed to the WNC as the Fleet Commander.