By Fidel Ozugha
A Nigerian Air Force jet has crashed in Abuja, killing all the crew members. The plane, Beecraft KingAir B350i with registration number NAF201, took off from Abuja at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 10:35 am, and four minutes later, crashed at exactly 10:39 am. It was a surveillance aircraft on its way to Niger State on surveillance operations as part of efforts to rescue abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara. The students with some staff were abducted by bandits.
Director Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshall Ibikunle Daramola, who made the accident known in a statement gave the names of the crash victims to include Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist), Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist) and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshall Oladipo Amao has visited the scene of the accident, in company of the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and other Service Chiefs.
The Director-General of the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Abass Idriss disclosed that all the seven bodies have been recovered from the scene of the accident. He said that the remains of the deceased recovered few hours after the crash have been deposited at the Nigeria Air Force morgue in Abuja.
All the deceased personnel were alleged to be serving in Maiduguri, Borno State, under the Air Task Force of Operation Lafia Dole. They were said to have arrived Abuja Saturday night, took off to Niger and were expected to fly back to Maiduguri after the ill-fated mission. NAF authorities were reported to have contacted families of the deceased.