By Kingsley Omonobi-Abuja
The Nigerian Airforce has said that five crew members of the Mi-35 helicopter gunship which went missing while in combat against Boko Haram terrorists have been confirmed dead.
The crew members include two Pilots, two gunners and a flight technician.
They are Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – Pilot in Command, Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – Co-Pilot, Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim – Flight Technician, Lance Corporal Adamu Nura – Gunner and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael – Gunner.
A statement by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of NAF Public Relations and Information said, “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of the 5 crew members who were on board the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Mi-35M Helicopter which crashed in combat yesterday (Wednesday), 2 January 2019, while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion, Damasak in Borno State.
“The deceased personnel’ remains have been recovered to Maiduguri.
“These gallant fallen heroes paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of our Fatherland, for which the NAF, and indeed the entire Nation, owes them an unending debt of gratitude.
“The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf all officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserate with the families of the 5 fallen heroes and pray that the Almighty grants their souls peaceful repose.
“The CAS was in Maiduguri today (Thursday), 3 January 2019, to convey the condolences of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to personnel of the Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole over the unfortunate loss.
“While in Maiduguri, the CAS also received a condolence visit from the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai”.
“The NAF appreciates the overwhelming support shown by the general public to the Service over the sad incident.
“We continue to solicit your understanding and support as we daily strive to ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.”