‘I Felt Much Relieved’: Buhari Praises Air Force Pilot For Gallantry

Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo with the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, and other military officials.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has praised gallant pilot of the Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo,  who successfully ejected from an aircraft that came under “intense ground fire from bandits” in Zamfara State.

The pilot had finished a raid against kidnappers when he came under intense fire, the Air Force spokesman, Edward Gabkwet, said in a statement on Monday.

Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds by using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.

Reacting in a statement issued on Tuesday by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said he was pained by the news of the air crash.

“I was shocked by the devastating news of the air crash but felt much relieved, following the successful ejection by the pilot and his eventual rescue. May the injured pilot recover at the earliest time,” President Buhari was quoted as saying.

Shehu said President Buhari had been briefed on the successful operation by the nation’s defence forces to rescue the pilot, few days after armed bandits gunned down the military aircraft.

READ ALSO: Pilot Survives As Nigeria Fighter Jet Battling Bandits Crashes

The attack happened on the border of the northern Zamfara and Kaduna states.

Armed gangs – referred to locally as “bandits” – have been blamed for a spate of recent kidnappings in this part of north-western Nigeria.

Students and schoolchildren have been targeted – more than 1,000 have been kidnapped since December. Most have since been freed, reportedly after ransoms were paid, but some have been killed.

In recent days, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the military to do all it takes to flush out criminals in the states of Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna.

Air Force Trains Personnel To Tackle Incessant Aircraft Crashes

A screengrab taken on June 19, 2021, shows NAF personnel during a training session in Abuja.

 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the re-training of personnel in order to ensure the safety of its crew, as part of efforts to tackle the incessant air mishaps in the Nigerian military.

This followed the recent crashes that claimed the lives of at least 18 military officers, including the late immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.

Addressing reporters on Saturday, NAF Director of Training, Air Commodore Esen Efanga, explained that the Chief of Air Staff approved the training to enable the crew to be up to speed with global best practices and reduce human factors that cause air crashes.

He said, “We have discovered that in the world, most of accidents and incidents have bee attributed to human factors which the human being is the most critical aspect of the aviation sector.

“We have also discovered that most of the accidents do not have to do with the technical abilities of the crew, but rather the interface between the human-and-human, and the human-and-the-aircraft.”

“Because at this point, we are involved in several operations all over the country, this does not come without risks that we have seen in the air force of recent involving incidents and accidents,” Efanga added.

READ ALSO: South East Governors Condemn Violent Secessionist Groups, Back United Nigeria

He disclosed that the training was the first in a series of training that would be carried out in all operational units at various centres all over the country.

The air commodore stated that the crew were trained by very seasoned and experienced resource persons who were certified to impart such knowledge.

“It is the Chief of Air Staff’s intention to establish a culture of safety in the Nigerian Air Force so that while we have increased and enhanced our operations, we take care of this critical aspect of NAF operations,” he said.

On May 21, the nation was thrown into mourning after the death of Lieutenant General Attahiru broke.

Attahiru, who was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff in January, died in a plane crash in Kaduna alongside 10 other personnel of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force.

The incident was preceded by two other crashes – the first being Beechcraft KingAir B350i which crashed at Bassa village in Abuja while en route to Minna, killing seven NAF personnel in the process.

Personnel on board the plane had reported an engine failure and were on their way back to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport before the aircraft crashed.

About six weeks after the crash, a NAF Alpha Jet aircraft went missing while on an operation in Borno State and was found to have crashed days later.

The aircraft lost contact with radar on March 31 while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting insurgency in the state.

Air Force Sets Up Committee To Conduct Safety Audit On NAF Planes

A file photo of NAF personnel with an Alpha-jet of the Nigerian Air Force. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, has constituted a committee to conduct a safety audit of all Nigerian Air Force operational and engineering units.

This followed the plane crash in Kaduna State which killed eleven military officers, including the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.

A statement on Tuesday by NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, revealed that the committee comprised serving and retired senior officers of the force.

The committee, among other terms of reference, is to analyse safety reports from operational and engineering units, conduct safety evaluation of NAF units, and recommend measures to enhance the safety of operations in the units.

It was also mandated to interact with unit operational and technical personnel for views, observations, and contributions on safety measures.

The committee chaired by the Deputy Theatre Commander of Operation Hadin Kai, Air Vice Marshal Abraham Adole, was asked to submit its report not later than June 18.

 

February 21 – May 21 Crashes

On February 21, the Nigerian Air Force lost seven of its personnel and one of its aircraft to a crash in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The affected aircraft – Beechcraft KingAir B350i – crashed at Bassa village – just a few yards off the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport as a result of an engine failure while en route to Minna, the Niger State capital.

Personnel onboard the plane had reported the fault and were on their way back to the airport before the aircraft crashed.

About six weeks after the crash, a NAF Alpha Jet aircraft went missing while on an operation in Borno State in the north-eastern region of the country.

The aircraft lost contact with radar on March 31 while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting insurgency in the state.

While the plane was later found to have crashed, the Boko Haram terrorist group said it shot it down – a claim NAF authorities swiftly refuted.

As Nigerians recover from the shock of the two crashes, the nation was thrown into mourning yet again on Friday last week after the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, broke.

Attahiru, who was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff in January, died in a plane crash in Kaduna alongside 10 other personnel of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force.

They included Brigadier-General MI Abdulkadir, Brigadier-General Olayinka, Brigadier-General Kuliya, Major LA Hayat, Major Hamza, Sergeant Umar, Flight-Lieutenant TO Asaniyi, Flight-Lieutenant AA Olufade, Sergeant Adesina, and ACM Oyedepo.

Military Aircraft Crashes In Kaduna, Chief Of Army Staff Believed To Be On Board

A file photo of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.
A file photo of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru.

 

A military plane crashed in Kaduna State on Friday with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, believed to be on board, along with several other officers.

The Nigerian Air Force confirmed the incident via a statement issued shortly after the crash, but did not reveal the identities of the affected military personnel.

But several media reports said Lieutenant General Attahiru, who was appointed Chief of Staff on January 26, died in the crash.

Air Force spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet, said the incident occurred near the Kaduna International Airport.

 

“An air crash involving a @NigAirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon,” he said.

The incident was said to have occurred at about 6 pm while it was raining heavily.

The officers apparently were on their way to Kaduna State ahead of tomorrow’s passing out parade of soldiers from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria.

The aircraft, with registration number, 5N-R203 was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in Mando area, before it diverted and attempted to land at the Kaduna airport.

At least 12 top military officers and crew members are believed to have been involved in the crash.

The Air Force has been involved in a couple of tragedies this year.

An Air Force jet supporting ground troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists went missing in north-east Borno in March.

In February, seven officials died after a military plane crashed in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Nigerian Air Force Inducts Three New JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Aircraft

The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, performed the induction on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has inducted three newly acquired JF-17 Thunder multi-role aircraft into its inventory.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, performed the induction at an event held on Thursday in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

He stated that the induction ceremony was personally rewarding to him as it marked yet another step in his promise to improve the infrastructure and equipment dispositions of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) and other security agencies for enhanced output, professionalism, and service delivery.

The President added that the induction of the JF-17 aircraft was indicative of how the air force has continued to advance its capability and capacity over the past 57 years while developing competencies to achieve its constitutional mandate of defending the nation’s territorial integrity by air.

He commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, for remaining at the forefront of the fight against all enemies of Nigeria.

A photo released by NAF on May 20, 2021, shows the three newly acquired JF-17 Thunder multi-role aircraft inducted into its inventory.

 

President Buhari believes the air force chief has embarked on initiatives towards bridging NAF’s human capacity gaps, as well as exploiting research and development for improved self-reliance.

He went further to commend the resilience and commitment of members of the military and other security agencies for ensuring the sovereignty of Nigeria and its indivisibility.

Similarly, the President appreciated the support of the Government of Pakistan and the efforts of the Pakistani Ambassador to Nigeria, Mohammad Azam, at sustaining the strategic partnership between Nigeria and Pakistan.

He gave an assurance that his administration would continue to work with members of the international community to collectively evolve solutions to the common challenges of terrorism and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

President Buhari used the occasion to salute the gallantry of personnel who have paid the supreme price in the defence of the nation and prayed for the repose of their souls.

Air Force To Investigate Report Its Strikes Killed Soldiers In Borno

A file photo an Alpha-jet of the Nigerian Air Force. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Nigerian air force on Monday said it was investigating reports that its airstrikes accidentally killed ground troops in Mainok, Borno State.

A video of a soldier describing the attack had been circulating on social media.

“The NAF wishes to state that visuals and reports being circulated are currently being investigated and the general public will be duly updated on the alleged incident,” a statement on the Air Force’s verified Twitter page said.

READ ALSO: Wreckage Of Missing Air Force Jet Reportedly Found In Borno

The air force has been involved in a couple of tragedies this year.

An air force jet supporting ground troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists went missing in north-east Borno in March.

In February, seven officials died after a military plane crashed in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Friendly Fire

The air force bomber “accidentally” hit the wrong coordinates while targeting Boko Haram insurgents who had attacked the troops on Sunday, military sources said, as reported by online newspaper TheCable.

According to the sources, the insurgents had attacked a military base in Mainok and reportedly overpowered the troops, who then called for reinforcement.

But the reinforcement truck was shelled by the airstrike.

 

The truck which was sent for reinforcement was targeted and shelled by the air strike following a flawed intelligence, sources said.

One of the soldiers in the affected area told TheCable:

“They (Boko Haram) came with heavy machines, about four MRAPS (mine-resistant ambush protected) vehicles and they overpowered the ground troops,” a soldier in the affected area told TheCable

“Troops sent signals for air support and when they came, it missed the main coordinates; where the air force shelled their bomb was on the location of troops instead of that of Boko Haram.

“The aircraft had to turn back. They realised that they mistargeted (and) most of the soldiers started running inside the bush.”

Wreckage Of Missing Air Force Jet Reportedly Found In Borno

A file photo of NAF personnel with an Alpha-jet of the Nigerian Air Force. Photo: [email protected]

 

There are indications that the wreckage of the missing Alpha jet belonging to the Nigerian Air Force has been found in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State which is about 30 kilometres outside of Maiduguri, the state capital.

Although the Air Force authorities are yet to confirm this development, sources on Friday said the fighter jet was seen flying around Goni Kurmiri and Njimia villages after attacking terrorist locations at the Sambisa axis.

The sources, however, did not give any information about the whereabouts of the pilot and the co-pilot.

Air Force authorities had announced that the plane lost contact with the radar on Wednesday evening while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the northeast.

Earlier on Friday, the Air Force also announced the possibility that the plane may have crashed.

According to a statement issued by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the aircraft marked – NAF475 – had two crew members on board when it went missing on Wednesday in Borno State.

READ ALSO: NAF Alpha-Jet Goes Missing After Losing Contact With Radar In Borno

While the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the crew members who are NAF personnel remain unknown, the pilots were identified as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.

Meanwhile, a faction of Boko Haram has claimed that it shot down the plane with some of the pictures showing the wreckage of a plane now being circulated on social media.

According to a video released on Friday, the terrorists claimed responsibility for shooting down a Nigerian fighter jet.

The video, which could not be verified by Channels Television, was released on a Boko Haram social media channel showing a militant standing on what the group claims are the wreckage of the jet. It shows the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475 on its fuselage.

“Nigeria air force jet fighter… was sent to Sambisa to fight the Mujahideen,” the militant said.

Nigeria’s military have been battling jihadists in the northeast of the country for more than a decade and have recently been fighting them in their stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state.

In 2014, Boko Haram said it shot down another Nigerian air force jet and showed a video claiming to have beheaded its pilot.

Since the Islamist insurgency broke out in 2009, the conflict has killed around 36,000 people in the region and displaced some two million from their homes.

The violence has also spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a prominent threat, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping civilians.

At the start of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new military commanders after coming under pressure to better tackle insecurity and inject new life into the armed forces.

Boko Haram Claims It Shot Down Missing Air Force Jet

A file photo of NAF personnel with an Alpha-jet of the Nigerian Air Force. Photo: [email protected]

 

Boko Haram militant group has claimed it shot down a Nigerian fighter jet that went missing earlier this week and which the air force said may have crashed, according to a militant video released on Friday.

The Alpha light attack jet was on a mission to support troops fighting militants in northeastern Borno state when it lost radar contact on Wednesday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said.

Nigeria’s military have been battling jihadists in the northeast of the country for more than a decade and have recently been fighting them in their stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state.

READ ALSO: NAF Alpha-Jet Goes Missing After Losing Contact With Radar In Borno

The video, which could not be verified by AFP, was released on a Boko Haram social media channel showing a militant standing on what the group claims is the wreckage of the jet. It shows the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475 on its fuselage.

“Nigeria air force jet fighter… was sent to Sambisa to fight the Mujahideen,” the militant said.

The air force said on Friday that the jet may have crashed. It said the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the two crew onboard were unknown.

“Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground,” its statement said.

“At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.”

It did not respond immediately to a request for an update on the search.

In 2014, Boko Haram said it shot down another Nigerian air force jet and showed a video claiming to have beheaded its pilot.

Since the Islamist insurgency broke out in 2009, the conflict has killed around 36,000 people in the region and displaced some two million from their homes.

The violence has also spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from Boko Haram in 2016 and has since become a prominent threat, attacking soldiers and bases while killing and kidnapping civilians.

At the start of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new military commanders after coming under pressure to better tackle insecurity and inject new life into the armed forces.

 

AFP

NAF Alpha-Jet Goes Missing After Losing Contact With Radar In Borno

A file photo of NAF personnel with an Alpha-jet of the Nigerian Air Force. Photo: [email protected]

 

A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha-Jet has gone missing while on an operation in the north-eastern region of the country, authorities have said.

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed this in a statement on Thursday.

He said the aircraft lost contact with radar while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops fighting insurgency in Borno State.

Gabkwet, who noted that the incident occurred on Wednesday evening, explained that the mission was part of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North East.

According to him, authorities have commenced search and rescue efforts as details of the whereabouts of the aircraft have yet to be ascertained.

Read the full statement below:

NIGERIAN AIR FORCE ALPHA-JET LOSES RADAR CONTACT

A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha-Jet has lost contact with radar in Borno State, while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops. The mission was part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North East. The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5:08 pm on 31 March 2021.

Details of the whereabouts of the aircraft or likely cause of contact loss are still sketchy but will be relayed to the general public as soon as they become clear. Meanwhile, search and rescue efforts are ongoing.

EDWARD GABKWET

Air Commodore

Director of Public Relations and Information

Nigerian Air Force

1 April 2021


VIDEO: Seven Killed As Military Aircraft Crashes In Abuja Airport


Wednesday’s incident came about a month and two weeks after seven NAF personnel were killed in a crash involving a military aircraft – just a few yards off the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja.

The affected aircraft – Beechcraft KingAir B350i – crashed on February 21 at Bassa village in the nation’s capital while returning to the airport after reporting engine failure en route to Minna, the Niger State capital.

While the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, ordered an immediate investigation into the accident, the late personnel were buried at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.

An officer of the Nigerian Air Force who died in a military aircraft crash on February 21, 2021, is buried at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.

US, Reps Mourn Victims Of Military Plane Crash

Photo combination of US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, and the House of Representatives.

 

The United States and the House of Representatives Committee on Air Force have mourned the victims of the military aircraft that crashed near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.

In a tweet on Sunday, the US Mission in Nigeria commiserated with the Force, the families of the officers and all Nigerians on the tragedy.

The United States expresses sincere condolences to the @NigAirForce, family members and all Nigerians for the loss of life in today’s aircraft crash,” it tweeted.

Similarly, Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Shehu Koko, promised investigation will begin in earnest to determine the remote cause.

“This is to confirm that a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna,” he said.

“First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.”

While urging Nigerians to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation, the federal lawmaker said the committee “under the leadership of Femi Gbajabiamila is deeply saddened by this development and will work with the Chief of Air Staff to unravel the remote cause.”

In a statement issued by the Air Force spokesman, Ibikunle Daramola, the officers are; Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System specialist).

Others included Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS specialist), Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

The jet en route Minna in Niger State crashed close to the runway of the Abuja airport after reporting engine failure.

The NAF spokesman explained that Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has ordered an immediate probe of the accident.

Air Force Releases Names Of Officers Who Died In Abuja Crash

Caregivers work at the scene of an accident involving a Nigerian military aircraft which crashed killing seven occupants on board at the Airport runway near Nigeria’s capital Abuja, on February 21, 2021.   KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

 

 

The Nigeria Air Force on Sunday released the names of officers who died in the Beechcraft Kingair B350i plane crash.

In a statement issued by the Air Force spokesman, Ibikunle Daramola, the officers are; Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System specialist).

Others included Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS specialist), Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

READ ALSO: Kaduna Security: Four Killed, One Injured In Kajuru LGA

The jet en route Minna in Niger State crashed on Sunday close to the runway of the Abuja airport after reporting engine failure.

The NAF spokesman explained that Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has ordered an immediate probe of the accident.

“This is to confirm that a Nigerian Air Force Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna. First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash,” he said.

“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal IO Amao, has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.

“While urging the general public to remain calm and await the outcome of investigation, the CAS, on behalf of all NAF personnel, commiserates with the families of the deceased.”

Air Force Loses ‘Some’ Personnel To Bandits In Kaduna

A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria's North-Central region.
A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s north-west region.

 

The Nigerian Air Force has lost some of its personnel to armed bandits in Kaduna State.

This was confirmed in a statement issued on Saturday by the spokesman of the Air Force, Ibikunle Daramola.

He said over 100 armed bandits laid an ambush which led to the unfortunate killing, adding that some military personnel sustained various degrees of injuries.

“Troops of the 271 Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Detachment today, 13 February 2021, foiled an ambush set up by a group of over 100 armed bandits at Ungwan Laya near Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State,” the statement partly read.

READ ALSO: Shasha Violence: Do Not Take Laws Into Your Hands, Akeredolu Tells Ibadan Residents

“The gallant troops were able to fight their way through the ambush killing dozens of bandits in the process.

“Unfortunately, some NAF personnel paid the supreme price during the operation, while a few others sustained varying degrees of injuries. The injured personnel are currently receiving treatment at the NAF Hospital in Kaduna.”

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, on behalf all officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, has commiserated with the families of the fallen heroes, praying for the repose of their souls.

Amao who visited the injured personnel in the hospital on Saturday evening asked all NAF personnel to remain resolute and continue to collaborate with other security agencies, to rid the northwest of all criminal elements.