The burial ceremony of seven Airforce Officers who lost their lives on Sunday has held at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.
The officers were crew members of the ill-fated Beechcraft King Air 350 that crashed at Bassa village near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport while on a reconnaissance mission to Niger State.
A statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigeria Airforce, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola says the Aircraft reported engine failure shortly after take-off from Abuja and were on their way back to base when the crash occurred.
Present at the ceremony is the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi. Also Present are other Service Chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor.
The relatives of the late officers are also present at the cemetery where not an eye is left dry and the nation mourns the death of some of its finest soldiers.
Speaking while the crew was being laid to rest, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Oladayo Amao asked officers and men of the Nigerian Airforce to remain committed to the fight against terrorism in a bid to ensure that the sacrifices of their comrades will not be in vain.
The Minister of Defence Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) says he is deeply pained by the crash of the Nigerian Air Force King 350 plane in Abuja in which seven members of the crew on board died in the tragic incident.
General Magashi who had been to the scene of the crash with the Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao, and others described the deaths of the crew as an unfortunate depletion of the national human capital asset.
In a statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Defence on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, said their deaths in the line of duty will never be forgotten in the annals of the Nigerian Military’s gallantry efforts to end national insecurity.
While commiserating with the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation and the Nigerian Air Force in particular as well as the families of those who paid the supreme price serving the nation, he prayed for the repose of their souls and the fortitude to bear the national calamity.
The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, says Nigerians should not show cowardice in the face of attacks from bandits.
Major General Magashi’s comment comes a few hours after armed men attacked Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, killing a student and abducting many others.
Speaking with newsmen after the screening of service chiefs by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Magashi said security is not the sole responsibility of the military, adding that Nigerians must join the fight against bandits and other miscreants threatening the nation’s peace.
Magashi who does not support the calls for legalization to have civilians bear firearms in the country, however, noted that citizens need to show that they are not afraid of bandits.
“Well, is it not the responsibility of the military alone? It is the responsibility of everybody to be alert and ensure safety when necessary.
“We shouldn’t be cowards. Sometimes the bandits come with about three rounds of ammunition and when they fire shots everybody will run. In our younger days, we stand to fight any form of aggression.
“Why should people run away from minor, minor aggressions? We should stand and face them. If these people know that the people have the competence and capability to defend themselves, they will run away,” the minister told newsmen.
The minister said: ”We have demonstrated our ability to take on the challenge. We have done it in Katsina; when children were kidnapped. Within two days, we got them back. Hopefully, this time, we will do the same (thing) to get these captives back. We are planning.
“We have not got feedback on the activities going on in Niger State. But I am sure that before the end of the day, we will be given a full brief on what is going on in Niger State.”
The Federal Government has warned that it will not sit down and watch some people destabilise the country.
The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, stated this in Kano while responding to questions from newsmen on the renewed protests at the Lekki toll gate.
The Minister, who was in Kano for the APC membership revalidation exercise, said that the Buhari-led administration will not be governed the way some people want it.
He further commended the government for appointing new service chiefs while expressing optimism that the move will yield the desired result of winning the war against insurgents.
“If some people are seeing this country, that it has to be governed the way they want, they are mistaken,” Magashi said. “We are not elected to serve a particular people. We were elected to serve this country. Whoever is involved in this thing, the military or the government will not allow it to happen.
“Our interest is to ensure that there is peace and security in this country and that economic activities and social life of people are restored. That is our purpose. Whatever is happening here and there is an opinion of government.”
He also addressed Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s refusal to grant amnesty to bandits.
“If Kaduna state does not want to give amnesty to the people, please advise him that there is an international law stating what to be done and how it is done,” he said.
“We just don’t do things in isolation. We are part of the world. There are international laws and regulations that must be complied with in dealing with these situations.”
The Defence Minister harped on the need for peaceful co-existence, unity and peace especially as the country is fighting insurgency, banditry and kidnapping among other criminal tendencies.
He said the season is the reason to turn to God in fervent prayer to crown the sacrifices of our fighting forces to attain maximum victory over the adversaries.
While giving kudos to the troops – who by reason of their call to duty, which is primarily to defend the nation’s territorial integrity, will not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families and loved ones – he assured them that the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari will not allow their sacrifices to go unrewarded.
Gen. Magashi noted that the least appreciation Nigerians can show to the nation’s gallant soldiers who are fighting patriotically so that the citizens can sleep with their eyes closed (even when they themselves can’t afford to sleep) is to pray for them and be security conscious at this auspicious time.
He thanked the leadership of the services and heads of security agencies and their civilian counterparts for the recent feat attained in the timely rescue and return of the kidnapped students in Kankara, Katsina State.
The Minister described the successful operation that culminated in bringing back the kidnapped children as unprecedented in denying the kidnappers freedom of action, saying that such victory over the adversaries is the most beautiful Christmas and New Year special gift to the nation.
The Minister tasked the troops in various locations to be focused in invigorating their firing power and to hold the ground resolutely without allowing any crack on the walls of national defence; adding that the support of all Nigerians is critical to the attainment of security for the country for hitch free yuletide celebrations and beyond.
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, has given an assurance that all the schoolboys missing in Katsina State will return home in the next few hours.
He gave the assurance on Sunday when he led a delegation of the Federal Government, including the service chiefs to Katsina to symphathise with the parents and teachers of the victims, as well as the state government over the abduction.
This comes two days after bandits stormed the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, a Local Government Area in Katsina with hundreds of students missing in the process.
Simple To Accomplish?
“Today, we are here also to symphathise with you over the recent abduction of secondary school students, which is more or less a ruthless exercise conducted to tamper with the education of the students,” the minister told Governor Aminu Masari who received the delegation at the Government House.
He added, “With the brief we received from the sister security agencies in the state, this task will be very simple to accomplish.
“Within the next few hours, we will ensure that these people are back without any collateral damage to the people of Katsina State; we have strategised.”
General Magashi admitted that the confusion arising in the affected local government has testified to the fact that the military, the police, and other security agencies must move faster to ensure that the students were rescued.
He stressed that bandits must not be allowed to rest for a moment, saying it was about time bandits were proscribed as terrorists to effectively curb their activities in the North West and other parts of the country.
333 Students Missing
The minister stated, “All hands are on deck to ensure we accomplish our tasks within the Armed Forces and the police.
“I was here around August on the same kind of mission to sympathise with the government regarding the farmers and herders clashes.”
In his response, Governor Masari informed the delegation that 333 students were still unaccounted for as the school attacked by the bandits had a population of 839 students.
He, however, noted that the government has yet to get an accurate figure as some missing students were coming out from the forest and parents were being contacted through their phone numbers to find out whether their children were home.
“Based on the available record we have, we are still searching for 333 students through either the forest or their parents to ascertain the actual number (of students) that have been kidnapped.
“We, as government, we are yet to be contacted by any group or person responsible for the kidnap of the students,” the governor said.
The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, wants the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and others to be more innovative in the fight against insurgency, banditry, and other forms of crimes in the country.
He made the suggestion on Friday at the sixth Graduation Ceremony of participants of the Air Force War College (AFWC) Course 6/2020 held at NAF Base Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Magashi, who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, placed a demand for excellence and professionalism on the shoulders of military officers in the discharge of their constitutional mandate.
According to him, the changing nature of warfare poses new challenges to security forces as sub-conventional threats are on the rise, creating a significantly more complex strategic environment, both at the global and regional levels.
“The nature of these challenges makes it necessary to be innovative and explore contemporary ways and means to tackle them.
“Invariably, doctrinal development, force structure, planning and equipment provisioning for asymmetric warfare have become much more challenging problems than what is obtainable in a conventional war,” the minister stated.
Noting that the Air Force War College is the apex military training institution in the Force, he said it has done credibly well since its establishment in September 2016.
Magashi asserted that airpower, being a critical component of the nation’s military instrument of national power, has remained a formidable tool in the preservation of Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
“Aside from the efforts of the NAF towards enhancing internal security in the country, the Service has also attracted tremendous goodwill and credibility to the nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the African Union, United Nations, and friendly African countries,” he said.
The minister congratulated the graduands for completing their training, saying they have shown courage and determination to be able to achieve the feat.
He was delighted that the NAF had seized the opportunity to create an avenue for operational and strategic level thinking at the AFWC.
“As the air arm of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the NAF has been playing significant and crucial roles in the ongoing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, where air force officers, airmen, and airwomen have performed gallantly.
“I am particularly proud of the innovative steps that the NAF has taken within the last few years, as it strives to revitalise and boost its capacity to fulfill its mandate to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity,” Magashi said.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the needed support and encouragement to the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in furtherance of the nation’s constitutional roles.
The minister also commended the Commandant, faculty, and administrative staff of the AFWC for their dedication and tireless efforts towards the training of the graduands.
Nigeria was aware of a rescue mission conducted by the United States forces in the country, the government has said.
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), disclosed this to reporters on Tuesday at the National Assembly in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He explained that the Federal Government granted the US permission to carry out the rescue of its citizen kidnapped by bandits in the Niger Republic and taken to northern Nigeria.
“The United States of America contacted the Nigerian government and they were given the permission to undertake that operation,” the minister said after he appeared before the federal lawmakers to defend his ministry’s budget.
He added, “There is nothing wrong in a friendly nation taking permission to conduct an operation which is for the mutual good of the countries; that is why we allowed it to happen.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari while launching the 2020 AFRDC Emblem last year emphasized that a major priority of government is to ensure that it caters for families of fallen heroes.
The Defence Minister lauded the effort of the AFN in supporting families of personnel who paid the supreme price, through economic empowerment programmes for their widows and educational scholarship for their children.
He urged Nigerians to remain patriotic & committed to the unity, peace and progress of the nation. He enjoined all to support the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in performing its constitutional role of defending Nigeria’s sovereignty
The Chief Imam of the National Mosque, Professor Shehu Galadanci in his sermon, described the Nigerian military as an embodiment of courageous, gallant and discipline personnel, whose performance in internal security & peace support operations within and outside the shores of the country has received global encomium.
The Chief Imam implored Nigerians to show appreciation to members of the AFN for tackling national security challenges, particularly in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country. He urged the military not to relent in ensuring that terrorism is completely eradicated. He also called on Nigerians to encourage, support and pray for troops in the various theatres of operations.
Prof Galandaci paid tribute to fallen heroes and veterans for their patriotic and selfless sacrifices. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Tanko, ministers, Members of the National Assembly, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, diplomats, senior military & paramilitary officers attended the Juma’at prayer.