By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
It was a flurry of emotions on Friday at the Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State , where the funeral service of Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, who died in mysterious circumstances at his residence in Lagos, held.
The Bayelsa State government, family and friends of the deceased who took turns to eulogise him, described the late senior naval officer as a man of “strong character” who would always insist on doing the right thing no matter the pressure.
Ikoli died in April this year, in controversial circumstances at his official abode on No. 8B Roycroft Street, Apapa GRA, Lagos, just seven months after he was promoted from the rank of a navy commodore to that of a rear admiral.
Rear Admiral John Jonah (Rtd), Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, who represented the Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson during the event, termed Ikoli’s death as “tragic and a surprise”.
The Deputy Governor recalled working with the late naval officer, noting that he was a man with so much potential.
“I had many opportunities of serving with him aboard the same ship like some officers here. I recall that he was posted here to Central Naval Command (in Bayelsa). I think he spent just one week.
“We had that tradition to point out officers with potential and follow them through. I knew his father in the service and I followed his career when he joined. The impression we had of him has also been attested to here today”, Jonah said.
He added : “He was an uncle to one of my daughters. My daughter was the second person that called me after a naval source informed me of his death. His death was tragic and a surprise. We talked a lot. Then this happened. It’s painful to the family and his course mates here”.
The Deputy Governor urged the naval authorities to uphold the tradition of taking care of families left behind by officers, stressing that it was one that must be maintained.
“We have lost a dedicated and intelligent officer. He was both. To his course mates , let us continue with ‘onward together’, don’t turn your backs on the family.
“It’s a tradition. It’s what we grew up to meet. The navy remains my traditional family. I pray you continuously have the family in mind. Make them grow to what their father would have wanted,” he advised.
In his remarks, Rear Admiral Tom Dick, Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters, Abuja , a friend of the deceased, said many people found it difficult to relate with late Ikoli, because he would not bend the rules for anybody.
“I knew late rear admiral Ikoli as far back as 1983. We were course mates and friends , brothers and neighbours. It is difficult to pay a tribute to Ikoli for such a short time. Ikoli had strength of character, loved by both his juniors and seniors. He was extremely hard working.
“He put the interest of the service above his. Because of his strength of character people found it difficult to relate with him because he won’t do things that people ordinarily expected him to do”, Rear Admiral Dick said.
A younger brother to the deceased senior officer, Detei Ikoli, in his tributes described the death as devastating.
“ My elder brother lost his life so soon. We should focus on celebrating him today. He was intelligent, a friend and perfect gentlemen. He was easy-going and was dedicated to family and friends.
“We are left devastated. He loved his children. He had big dreams for his children. It’s painful his life ended so short. It will be difficult without him in this family”, he said.
The deceased’s body was later taken by officers to the VIP Section of the State Cemetery in Yenagoa for interment.
Before his death, Ikoli was also a member of the Presidential Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement (CADEP), which was commissioned by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to investigate the purchase of hardware and munitions in the Armed Forces between 2007 and 2015.
He was also the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft under the Western Naval Command (WNC) in Apapa, Lagos.
After his appointment in Abuja, he was redeployed to the WNC as the Fleet Commander.
His death remains controversial as many believe he was murdered although a report released by the police revealed that he might have shot himself.
Born on October 2, 1965, the 52-year-old Bayelsa Indigenes was enlisted into the Nigerian Navy on January 4, 1983 and was commissioned on January 4, 1986.