From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao, said on Monday that the ill-fated Beechcraft King Air B350i which crashed in Abuja, on Sunday was actually at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to refuel.
Amao, who made this known when he received the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, on a condolence visit to the NAF headquarters said the aircraft which was on its way to Minna, Niger State, had reported engine failure before it crashed short of the runway killing all crew members on board.
He said the deceased personnel, who had been in Minna, Niger State for days, had been conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions in connection with the efforts to rescue the abducted 42 students and staff Government Science College Kagara, by bandits.
The NAF Chief told the minister who was accompanied on the visit by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Anthonia Ekpa, described the crash a sad Sunday for the entire NAF Family, said the NAF, had lost a set of fine, well-trained, dedicated personnel, who in the course of conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions had operated in virtually all theatres, including the North East, North West as well as the North Central.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information Air Vice Marshall Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement, said: ‘The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has described the death of the 7 Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel who lost their lives in an air crash involving a NAF Beechcraft King Air B350i in Abuja yesterday, 21 February 2021, as a great loss, not only to the NAF but the entire nation. The Honourable Minister stated this today, 22 February 2021, while paying a condolence visit to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, at the Headquarters (HQ) NAF, Abuja alongside the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ambassador Dr (Mrs) Anthonia Ekpa.’
According to the minister, the Ministry of Women Affairs shares ‘in this dark moment of grief’. Dame Tallen, who highlighted that she was at HQ NAF on behalf of Nigerian women and children, prayed that the good Lord would console the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, the CAS, the entire NAF family as well as members of the immediate families of the deceased gallant officers and airmen. The minister later presented a condolence letter to the CAS.
The CAS, AVM Amao, in his remarks thanked the Honourable Minister for finding time to commiserate with the NAF on the unfortunate incident. He said it was a sad Sunday for the entire NAF family, which had lost a set of fine, well-trained, dedicated personnel, who in the course of conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, had operated in virtually all theatres, including the North East, North West as well as the North Central. The CAS disclosed that the deceased personnel, who had been in Minna for days conducting ISR missions in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students and staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State, had only stopped at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to refuel before embarking on the fateful return flight to Minna when the unfortunate incident occurred. While describing the incident as one of the hazards of the military profession, AVM Amao lamented that the NAF would find it difficult to replace the personnel based on their training and experience acquired over the years. He said the Service was nevertheless consoled by the fact that the deceased personnel gave their utmost in service to the nation.