There was anxiety and palpable fear in the military circle on Sunday evening, as news of another air mishap involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Alpha Jet was reported by some online news portals.
The online platforms had claimed that the location of the crash was “somewhere in Kaduna State”.
Sources told the medium that the aircraft type involved in the latest air mishap was an Alpha jet.
“The fighter jet left Yola, the Adamawa capital, this morning to go clear bandits,” the source told the online medium.
However, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, denied the report, saying there was no report of a crash within the Kaduna general area.
In an update at the NAF WhatsApp platform, the NAF Spokesperson explained that no aircraft left Yola for Kaduna as claimed in the trending report.
Commodore Gabkwet however, reiterated that he is making contact and awaiting information from other locations.
If this air mishap is finally confirmed, it will bring a total of four air crashes involving military aircraft in seven months.
The then Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF)
, AVM Ibikunle Daramola while giving an update on the tragic incidence said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), earlier today, 21 February 2021, confirmed that one of its aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201), crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja after reporting engine failure en route Minna, where it was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.
As if that was not enough sorrows, tears, and blood, on the 31 of March 2021, less than one month after the first tragedy, another one struck, but this time around in the Theatre of war.
Announcing the ugly incidence, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet in a statement said the NAF Alpha Jet aircraft, was reported missing in Borno State on 31 March 2021 after losing radar contact.
According to the statement, “The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to some videos being circulated on Social Media, as well as media reports drawn therefrom, alleging that the NAF Alpha Jet aircraft, which was reported missing in Borno State on 31 March 2021 after losing radar contact, was shot down by terrorists. One of such videos, in particular, began with sporadic shooting by several terrorists, including underaged children on motorcycles and vehicles. It later skipped abruptly to a scene depicting an aircraft exploding mid-air, supposedly as a result of enemy action. Another part of the video showed a terrorist, who, while standing by the wreckage, claimed that they had shot down the NAF aircraft.
Painfully, while the above crash was yet to be resolved by the military, the mother of all military crashes happened in Kaduna.
Confirming the air crash that killed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel, the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima in a statement said, “The Nigerian Army regrets to announce the passing away of its Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru . The sad event occurred following an air crash in Kaduna which also claimed the lives of 10 other officers including the crew.
The COAS was en route to Kaduna from Abuja on Friday, 21 May 2021 when the unfortunate incident happened”.
18 out of the 20 victims of the NAF, perennial air mishap have since been buried, the latest being the burial of the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and ten others on Saturday, 22 May 2021.
The fate of the crew members for the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that crashed on the 31, March 2021, in the Northeast theatre of operation is still hanging in the balance.