Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Victor Malu, is dead. He was 70.
Malu, said a family source, Bem Adoor, died yesterday morning at a Cairo, Egypt hospital, where he had travelled to, for normal medical check-up two weeks ago.
The former ECOMOG Commander (Peace Keeping Force), from August 1996 to January 1998, was Chief of Army Staff from May 1999 to April 2001, during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Born on January 15, 1947, at Katsina-Ala, Benue State, Malu enrolled at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna in 1967 as part of the 3rd Regular Course and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1970.
The former army chief chaired the military tribunal which tried former Chief of General Staff and Vice Chairman, Armed Forces Ruling Council, General Oladipo Diya and others, over an alleged failed coup plot against then Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his condolences to the Malu family, as well as the government and people of Benue State on his death.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, yesterday, said Buhari also commiserated with the Armed Forces on Malu’s demise.
He descibed Malu as “a very distinguished and professional colleague, who demonstrated incredible courage and leadership, including during very turbulent times in Liberia,” and expressed the belief that the late Malu will be fondly remembered for his dedication and commitment as a military officer and his numerous landmark contributions to Nigeria’s unity and development.
Also, former Senate President, David Mark, has described Malu as a gallant soldier.
“I’ve lost a reliable brother, dependable friend, colleague and comrade. Malu was a soldiers’ soldier. He was frank and truly called a spade its rightful name no matter whose ox was gored. Unarguably, the country has lost one of her best and fertile minds in the Armed Forces. We shall sorely miss him.”
On his part, the traditional ruler from his area, Tor Sankera, Abu King Shuluwa, said he received the news of Malu’s death as a rude shock and described him as a fine footballer and a fine soldier.
Shuluwa, who said he was a year Malu’s senior at Provincial Secondary School (now Government College), Katsina-Ala, Benue State, lamented that he shouldn’t have died at this time.
Former Interior Minister, Comrade Abba Moro described Malu’s demise as a rude shock and extolled his wealth of experience as a fine military gentleman who distinguished himself in many military operations and made Benue and Nigeria proud.
“Oh my God! His death is a huge loss to Benue State and Nigeria. He was a soldier who distinguished himself, paid his dues appropriately to defend the integrity of Nigeria.
“As a fine military gentleman, he distinguished himself in many operations and made Benue State very proud.
He was one of the rare gifts that Benue gave to Nigeria. He was a highly detribalised person. Even in his retirement, the military in him never departed. He continued to avail himself of military engagements.
Former minister of state for Education, Prof. Jerry Agada, described Malu’s death as shocking and acknowledged that it was a great loss, not only to Benue people, but to Nigeria, as a whole.
“It’s a shock. He was somebody I generally admired, right from his days in the army up to when he became the chief of army staff.
“For a person with such a status, this is a great loss not only to Benue, but, Nigeria as a whole. I condole with Benue people and Nigerians for losing such a great personality.”
Also, social critic and former Lagos State Police commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said the nation has lost a brave and outspoken officer whose vacuum may never be filled.
Tsav, who described Malu’s death as “sad and unfortunate,” noted that, “as humans and mere mortals, no one can question the will of God.”
At the time of filing this report, Benue State Government was yet to react.
The state government said it awaited a formal notification from Gen. Malu’s family.
The statement did not come before going to press.