Tribute To Ilo: Gallant Soldier Killed by Boko Haram Because Of Arms Fund Diversion
As exuberant youth were having a ball from club to club or hanging out and making out at lounges and beaches and restaurants, Nigerian soldier, Charles Victor Uchenna Ilo, was bracing up for a battle with Boko Haram on lovers’ day.
In his high spirits, he wrote on Facebook:-
“Well, nothing more 2say, we are going back 2 recapture our #monguno base 2day, i must fullfill my vow 4my country…my faith is one and ever! THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.” These were his final words.
And they summarize the kind of life he lived, his commitment to his job and dedication to fatherland.
With his sacrifices for his country and its people, it is fitting that he uttered those words on February 14, the Valentine’s Day of 2015.
That day, Ilo fell to Boko Haram’s bullets. On a day dedicated to the sharing of all kinds of love, he showed the greatest from of love for his country – sacrificing his life. Even in death, Ilo has been rightly hailed by his friends as a victor. His wish to have Monguno retaken from the insurgents was successful, after all. After almost two days of fighting, the army announced that the town had been cleared of terrorists and it was back in Nigeria’s control. But while the army claimed to have killed “more than 300 terrorists”, there was no official announcement of the casualty figure of the soldiers.
As his friends refrained from speaking to the media, their description of Ilo Victor as victorious in death came off as the African tradition of never speaking ill of the dead – until the discovery of a Facebook post by Justice Emeka Obi in the heat of the arms deal scandal.
“My brother, Charles Victor Uchenna Ilo, you died not because Boko Haram fighters were better trained… but because those old men diverted and pocketed billions of dollars budgeted for arms procurement, thereby starving you of the necessary weaponry,” an embittered Obi wrote, appending pictures of three of the dozens of highly-placed Nigerians implicated in the $2billion arms deal scandal.
But if Ilo were to be alive, he would have handled with equanimity, the disappointment of seeing the country’s leaders mismanage funds meant to equip soldiers against Boko Haram. He would, because it was his principle never to be broken by disappointment from mortals.
“Disappointment from a mere human should not worry you, rather [it should] encourage you…am always encouraged, my people,” he wrote in a Facebook post reproduced by his sister after his death. It is very easy to see that the slain soldier was loved by his people.
One of his friends, whose wife was pregnant during the battle and delivered a set of twins after Ilo’s death, named the male ‘Victor’, after Ilo, and the female ‘Victoria’. More than a year after his death, Ilo’s Facebook page is dotted with tributes from friends and family, and it is hard to imagine them fading anytime soon. The one that is arguably the most moving reads: “If I remember u Ilo water run away my eye…. aye aye water runaway my eye….. when I remember you Ilo water runaway me eyes ayee ayeee water runaway me eyes… rest in peace my gallant trooper, rugged soldier, my boy, my brother…… sobs sobs sobs!!!!!!!!!!!! – in loving memory of trooper.”
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