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Update: Air Force Officers Who Died In Sunday’s Crash Were On Mission To Rescue Kagara Students – See Details.
The Nigerian air force personnel who died in Sunday’s plane crash were en route Niger state to rescue students abducted from Government Science College, Kagara.
Shehu Koko, chairman of the house committee on air force, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Recall that the Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201) conveying the military personnel crashed near the Abuja airport.
None of the seven personnel on board survived the mishap.
“We highly regret the loss of our gallant officers who apparently were on a mission to rescue the kidnapped students of a secondary school in Kagara community in Niger State,” Koko said.
He commiserated with the families of the deceased officers, assuring that investigation into the incident will “begin in earnest to determine the remote cause”.
Speaking in the same vein, Ibikunle Daramola, air force spokesman, said the jet was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger and its environs.
The officers were heading to Niger four days after bandits abducted 42 persons including 27 students during an early morning attack in Kagara.
There is no official information on their whereabouts of the students yet, but the federal government has promised to ensure their safe and swift release.
Daramola had in his statement confirming the mishap said that “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.
“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.”
This is as the Accident Investigation Bureau said that it does not investigate military incidents or accidents except when invited.
General Manager, Public Affairs, AIB, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, said in a message reported by newsmen, that, “There was an accident involving a military aircraft. By the power established AIB-N, we do not investigate military incidents or accidents except where invited.”
Meanwhile, many Nigerians on social media including former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President Bukola Saraki have expressed condolences to the affected families and the Nigerian military.
Atiku said: “I have just learnt of the crash of a military aircraft near Abuja. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those onboard the ill-fated flight.”
Saraki, on his official twitter handle @bukolasaraki, said: “At this time, my prayers are with the Nigerian Air Force and the families and friends of the military personnel involved in today’s Beechcraft KingAir B350i plane crash.
“I pray for strength for the families.”
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