President Issoufou Mohammed of Niger republic delivered a mournful speech at Inates town before the burial of 71 soldiers killed by Boko Haram/ISWAP on December 10.Full speech is published below:
“Here we are gathered today, around the bodies of those who are most dear to us, united by the suffering of their cruel, premature and Oh how unjust loss, them so young, so full of life, dead for all of us, dead for our homeland, Niger. We are gathered, in this solemn setting, ravaged by the same suffering that has been plaguing us for three days, for three days since we learned this fatal slaughter that nothing can ever justify.
I decided to come, in person, to testify the recognition of the fatherland, inconsolable but in no way defeated, to these men torn from the affection of theirs, at the height of age, for what they are for us : our heroes, our martyrs.
I have come here to tell the families of these soldiers that their mourning is carried on, in a communion of rare intensity, by all of our people who are tried deep in their flesh.
I came here to express the feeling of great revolt that drives me, like all my compatriots, in the face of this war imposed on us by an enemy who has never addressed us except by attacking us in violent and treacherous way.
This enemy has just taken 71 homeland from his valiant children.
Under your orders, Commander Hassane Anoutab, the soldiers of the military reconnaissance station of Inates fought, like lions, against an enemy without humanity.
Commander Hassane Anoutab, since that disastrous day of Tuesday December 10, 2019, you have entered legend and your name now evokes the figure of the warrior, the hero. You died with weapons in hand, having never considered anything other than victory or death. On behalf of the Republic, I elevate you posthumously to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. You died in glory. You will never feel the shame that cowards feel. You ended your life as you always lived, in courage, honor and dignity. You should go to retirement, so well deserved in terms of your commendable service, but you have made the choice to accept the proposal made to you to continue serving your country. Next to you were mowed 70 other soldiers steeped in bravery.
In the name of the Republic I elevate each of them to the next higher rank posthumously.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hassane Anoutab, you and your 70 soldiers have shown courage; it is in this that your death is glorious. Death in the service of one’s homeland with weapons in hand is one of the best ends. Your families are in tears today but your children will always be proud to come from parents of your caliber. Yes, your children will always be proud of you because you leave them the courage to inherit. The whole Nation is proud of you.
You have made the sacrifice of your lives to protect Niger from the barbarity of those who, like vampires, only aspire to drink blood, those who destroy not only lives but our religion itself. Never, indeed, has Islam known a weapon of destruction as massive and as formidable as terrorism. Islam is being destroyed in the name of Islam. Terrorism has already claimed tens of thousands of victims, most of them Muslims. The seeds of his defeat are in his dogmatism, in his excess, in his cruelty.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hassane Anoutab, your sacrifice, you and your soldiers will not be in vain because your brothers in arms, I am convinced, will continue the fight with even more fearlessness and determination.
Your sacrifice will not be in vain as the government will continue to strengthen their capacities on all fronts. God forbid, it will be so because they can count on the unwavering support of our people. We will continue to ensure the consolidation of the People-Government-Defense and Security Forces trinity. This is the pledge of our nearby victory.
Your sacrifice will not be in vain because we are, moreover, determined, politically, strategically, operationally and tactically, to strengthen, even more, our alliances and the coordination of our forces to fight together in the name of freedom against enemies of freedom, against ignorance and obscurantism.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 was a dismal day. It was a terrible ordeal for our army and for our people. But we must keep in mind that it is always in blood, sweat and tears that nations are built.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hassane Anoutab, your sacrifice, you and your men, is a decisive step towards our victory against the enemy. It is also and above all another step in the strengthening of our nation”