By Kingsley Omonobi
The Nigeria Air force yesterday buried late flight Lieutenant Akweke Junior Nwakile who died in a helicopter crash in Bama, Borno State on 21 July amidst wailing and grieving by family members and friends of the young officer.
The atmosphere at the Nigeria Military cemetery in Abuja witnessed by the Minister of State Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, Permanent Secretary, Aliyu Ismaila, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jubril, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu and Major General Sarki Yakin Bello (rtd) who represented the NSA, was solemn as the remains of Junior Nwakile were laid to rest in military tradition.
Nwakile died when he crash-landed the M1-35 helicopter he captained after an engine problem, saving the lives of the co-pilot and flight engineer.
Speaking at the burial ceremony, Obanikoro described his death on the line of duty as that of a gallant officer sacrificing for peace to reign in Nigeria.
He called on members of the armed forces not to let the sacrifice of Nwakile’s life to be in vain, saying “As we continue to confront the present security challenges in some parts of the country, we should emulate the selfless, courage and commitment exhibited by flight lieutenant Nwakile and his colleagues.”
“Though his aircraft was not brought down as a result of enemy action, I am told that he was able to force-land the aircraft when it malfunctioned such that the 2 other crew members survived the crash. We must therefore be proud of this gallant effort of this young gentleman who proudly demonstrated the Great Spirit and tenacity of a combat helicopter pilot” the minister said.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu offered condolences to the family of the late officer, describing him as a dedicated officer and a fallen hero.