File photo of a Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet.

By Kingsley Omonobi & Dirisu Yakubu

The Nigerian Air Force has constituted a panel to probe the crash of a training aircraft in Kaduna on Tuesday.

It would be recalled that no fewer than two pilots died after an aircraft belonging to the Nigerian Air Force crashed in Kaduna on Tuesday evening.

A statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said yesterday that the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, promised to ensure a painstaking investigation into the incident.

He quoted Amao as saying this when he visited Kaduna earlier yesterday to commiserate with families, friends, and colleagues of the two pilots, who lost their lives in the tragic accident.

The statement read: “The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, has stated that the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, will ensure it thoroughly investigates the cause of the Super Mushshak trainer aircraft crash that occurred yesterday (Wednesday), April 19, 2022, at NAF Base, Kaduna.

“Air Marshal Amao had constituted an Accident Investigation Board upon receiving the sad news of the crash yesterday, to determine the immediate and remote causes of the crash.

“While at Kaduna earlier today (yesterday), he assured the officers, airmen, and airwomen of 401 Flying Training School that all measures will be emplaced to avert similar occurrence in the future.

“He also reminded them of the need to remain steadfast and focused on their assigned roles and responsibilities in view of the onerous task before the NAF and other security agencies to rid the Northwest and indeed the entire Nation of all criminal elements.”

Air Force reveals identities of personnel killed in aircraft crash

Identifying the pilots as Flight Lieutenant Abubakar Muhammed Alkali and Flight Lieutenant Elijah Haruna Karatu, Gabkwet, said: “The unfortunate incident of yesterday’s trainer aircraft crash (Tuesday) is yet again a tragic reminder of the perilous nature of the military flying profession as well as the risks NAF pilots continually take, daily, to secure Nigeria’s territorial integrity.”

Tragedy devastating, but ‘God giveth, taketh’, says family of late pilot

Also yesterday, family members of one of the pilots, Flt-Lt. Abubakar Alkali, said the incident had left them devastated.

Those who spoke, yesterday, however, said in spite of losing a great son, they had taken solace in the fact that ‘God giveth, God taketh’.

Alhaji Sulaiman Dauda, an uncle to the deceased, said Alkali was a fine officer, always involved in serving his fatherland.

“Akali is a fine officer, always in the service of his fatherland; a great son to us; we were devastated.

“But we take consolation in the fact that God giveth, God taketh, and fortunately, we belong to a family that lay emphasis on fear of God.

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“The kind of life he lived is very encouraging, and we have accepted it (incident) as being ordained by God.”

Also, Brig-Gen Umar Alkali, elder brother to the deceased, said though the tragedy was painful, no person on earth would live beyond his or her time as ordained by God.

“Our father died when he was just two years, so he grew up knowing me as a father; it’s a sad happening, but we all know that death is inevitable,” he said.

Late Alkali was buried on Tuesday in Kaduna at the Kawo cemetery, after funeral prayer was conducted at the Kaduna Air Force Base Central Mosque.

PDP raises alarm over frequent military plane crashes

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has expressed worry over the crash and other military plane crashes.

The PDP in a statement by its spokesman, Debo Ologunagba, pointed out what it called “growing public apprehension of possible security compromises and complicity in the All Progressives Congress-led administration,” leading to incessant unexplained military aircraft crashes in the country in the last seven years.

The statement read: “The disturbing trend is the fact that after each crash, the APC government comes up with a public announcement to investigate the circumstances surrounding the mishap but typical of the administration, such investigation went cold.

“This pattern gives credence to the strong suspicion among Nigerians that there is complicity or sabotage in our national security architecture including the Air Force, which is very critical to any meaningful fight against terrorism.

“In May last year, just 11 months ago, a NAF aircraft crashed around Kaduna International Airport, killing the then Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other officers.

“It is instructive to note that our nation has experienced no fewer than 11 unexplained military air crashes since the Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government took over power in 2015.

“The PDP demands a system-wide independent judicial enquiry to conduct an investigation into the remote and immediate causes of these incessant crashes of our military aircraft, especially in the face of worsening terrorism attacks in our country.

“This demand is imperative and consistent with the demands by Nigerians who have lost faith in the ability of the APC government to conduct a transparent and credible investigation into any matter, particularly those relating to our national security.

“Our party is saddened with this trend of event and hereby condoles with the Nigerian Air Force, the families of the officers involved in the air crash and prays for the repose of the souls of the departed officers.

“The PDP salutes our courageous military officers and charges them not to be deterred by this very sad and unfortunate incident but to remain vigilant and focused in their constitutional duty of protecting our nation especially at this critical point in our national life.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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