Ibrahim Attahiru: The Tragic End of a Promising Officer (1966 – 2021)

By Eric Elezuo

Much as death and the date of its coming are unknown phenomena, yet the whole country was shaken to its foundations when the news broke that the recently appointed Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru has been killed in a fatal plane crash.

The gallant soldier, which died with 10 other officers, was said to be on his way to attend the passing out parade of young army officers billed for Saturday.

According to reports, the ill-fated Airforce plane, was originally billed to land at the Army ground, but a new arrangement redirected its movement to the Kaduna International Airport. It was while attempting to land at the airport that it crashed, killing all passengers on board.

Born Ibrahim Attahiru on August 10, 1966 in Doka, Kaduna State, the officer, who recently landed the plum job of the Chief of Army Staff on January 26, 2021 when he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, replacing General Tukur Buratai, was a Lieutenant General serving as the 21st Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army.

Attahiru joined the Army in 1984 as a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy, and grew through the ranks out of a dint of hard work to reach the zenith of his military career as the Chief of Army Staff. He was a graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji and Nigerian Army School of Infantry.

He commenced cadets training in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer. It was at the Nigerian Defence Academy that he bagged a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies.

He was a holder of Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and Development from Salford University in the United Kingdom and Graduate Diploma in International Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Among many of his frontline combats, Attahiru held various positions in the military because becoming the COAS. He was General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu prior to his appointment as Chief of Army Staff. He had his ups and downs in the line of duty, and had his bad days as well. He reportedly failed in one of his missions and was removed from his post. In 2017, he was ordered by the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai to destroy Boko Haram and capture Abubakar Shekau, its leader dead or alive. Coincidentally, Shekau died barely 24 hours before he died.

As a gallant officer, Attahiru could boast of several honors and awards. He will be remembered for the UNAMSIL Medal, ECOMOG Medal, Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguish Service Star, Grand Service Star, Corp Medal of Honour, Command medal, Field Command Medal, and Field Command Medal of Honour.

During his brief three and half months as Army Chief, Attahiru managed to stamp his foot, sending clear warning messages to perpetrators of insurgency. He had taken a tour of almost all the Army formations across the country to ascertain the challenges on ground, and he would confront and surmount them. He was really a promising officer with huge security tactics up his sleeves.

On Friday, May 21, 20021, at the age of 54, just about two months to his 55th birthday, General Attahiru took his final salute and bowed to death when his aircraft lost control while attempting to land at the Kaduna International Airport, and crashed, killing all eleven officers on board.

He is married to Fati Attahiru, and they are blessed by wonderful children.

May his soul rest in perfect peace!

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