When Sunday Orji, an officer of the Nigerian Army, tied the nuptial knot with his heart throb, Emilia, in 2010, the vow was to live forever. He was already in service for six years, having joined the army in 2004.
The couple had it all planned like many others; make some money, make some babies and live together till death do them part. Indeed, Mr Orji made enough to cater for the family, he had two children with Emilia but the third promise was never fulfilled. The sun set on the soldier’s life in 2015. That marked the beginning of horror for his family.
“When I got there (Nigerian Army’s office), I was told they got a signal that my husband was missing but asked me to give them time to confirm his status. After a year of ignorance, I was later told he’s dead,” Mrs Orji said in a March interview with TATAAFO.COM, crying profusely.
The incident described by her was in 2015.
Before then, Mr Orji was in the habit of calling to check on his family everyday but around August that year, the calls stopped coming. An apprehensive Mrs Orji decided to visit the Bonny Camp army cantonment in Victoria Island to express her concern about the sudden halt of her husband’s call. Days later, she was told that her husband died at the battle front.
For over 10 years, the Nigerian government has engaged in war with the Islamic insurgent group, Boko Haram, seeking to establish an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
Since 2009 when it broke out, at least 47,000 people have been killed in the Boko Haram war, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Also, over two million have been displaced . One often neglected statistics, however, is the estimated 10,000 plus soldiers who have died in the war. Mr Orji with the army number 04/55/1726 is one of the fallen soldiers.
Soon after she was told about the death, Mrs Orji was advised by the Nigerian Army authorities to start processing her husband’s gratuity being the next of kin. She told TATAAFO.COM she was able to perfect the process in due time but four years later, she’s yet to receive any entitlement
“I was the one with his ATM (card) and we got salaries for three months before the salary was blocked,” she narrated.
Life became hard for Mrs Orji and her two children after her husband’s salary of N55,000 as lance corporal was stopped. Although the army allowed them to still occupy their accommodation in the Ojo Barracks, Lagos, putting food on their table and accessing other basic life needs became increasingly difficult.