On Friday, 4th June, 2021, I had my Juma’at prayers at the Defence Headquarters- first Jumaat prayer after the demise of 21st Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and other officers and men of Nigerian Armed Forces in the unfortunate plane crash in Kaduna on Friday, 21 May, 2021.
I also signed the condolence register at the Army Headquarters.
I had offered my last respect by attending the Janaiza prayers at the National Mosque and final burial at the National Cemetery on Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Abuja.
On the same day, I moved straight from the National Cemetery to Arise TV studio where Sumner Sambo, Political Editor and Anchor, This Week, Professor Abiodun Adeniyi, and I, discussed the impact of the crash on Nigerian Armed Forces. We focused on life and time of General Attahiru. We discussed welfare for the families of the fallen heroes.
I also accompanied the Chairman/CEO, Blueprint Newspapers Limited, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, who led some members of the management staff of the media organization on a condolence visit to the family at the Flag House (COAS residence) in Abuja on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
Even though, I spoke with Gen Attahiru 48 hours before the crash and had an appointment to see him, I last saw him at DHQ Mosque on the last Friday of Ramadan, which was 25 Ramadan 14442, May 7, 2021.
On that fateful Friday, as usual a space was left for him and his PSOs and aides in the front row. His orderly, late Sergeant Umar S, walked in about a quarter to two pm, from the back entrance with a praying mat and added it to the ones already arranged. He then sat on the row next to where COAS would sit.
General Attahiru accompanied by the Acting Director Military Intelligence, DMI, Brig Gen AU Kuliya, Chief of Staff, Brig Gen MI Abdulkadir, ADC, Major LA Hayat walked in about 10 minutes to 2 pm from the front door.
Brig Gen Kuliya was to the left of the COAS and the ADC was to the right, while the Chief of Staff moved to the row next to COAS. Each of them had two rakat nafila prayers and them sat down.
At 2pm , the imam ended the sermon and we had the two rakat Jumaat prayers.
After juma’at, I moved out and wore my shoes. Few minutes later Gen. Attahiru accompanied by the DMI, COS, ADC and orderly as well as other security aides walked past officers and men who were waiting to leave the mosque. As he got to where I stood, I greeted in Hausa:
‘Barka da jumaa sir!’
‘Barka dai, Jibrin! he acknowledged.
Without stopping, COAS waved and shook hands with some senior officers outside the mosque as he walked towards his office at the Army Headquarters.
That was my last encounter with the 21st Chief of Army Staff , General Attahiru.
Gen Attahiru and other fallen heroes died in the line of duty.
May Allah grant them aljana firdausi.