- Ministry of Defence condolence the military•
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General TY Buratai on Thursday paid a condolence visit to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal SB Abubakar, at the Headquarters of Air Task Force Command of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Maiduguri, Borno State.
The condolence visit was as a result the unfortunate crash of Nigerian Air Force Mi-35M Helicopter, while providing close air support to troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, around Damasak, northern Borno State, on Wednesday.
Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman, Director Army Public Relations, during the condolence visit, the COAS said he was there on behalf of Officers and Soldiers of the Nigerian Army, to commiserate with the families, officers, airmen and airwomen of the Nigerian Air Force and indeed all Nigerians, over the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of the pilots, a technician and the gunners.
He prayed God to grant their souls eternal rest, adding that the gallant heroes’ death would not be in vain as they died in active service for the security of our country, to safe guard the lives of the citizen and serve humanity in general.
He added that military officers are one family, as they train together in various training institutions, operate and live together as professionals and therefore, as family, the Nigerian Army felt the pain of the sad incident.
He further stated that military job is associated with high risks, but as professionals, we accept such divine destiny in good faith. He then called on the Director Military Intelligence, Major General SA Adebayo and the Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division and Commander Sector 1, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Brigadier General Bulama Biu to lead in the prayers for the repose of the souls of the departed heroes.
Speaking earlier, the CAS thanked the COAS for coming to share their pains and grief over the sad incident. He further assured that the Nigerian Air Force would continue to support and work with the Nigerian Army.
He commended the determined efforts of other gallant pilots despite the bereavement. He also assured that despite the high risk associated with the military profession, they would continue to give their best to ensure the success of the fight against terrorism and insurgency in the country.
Present at the occasion apart from both Service Chiefs, were Principal Staff Officers at both Services Headquarters and field commanders and pilots at Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence under the leadership of Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali commiserates with the Nigerian Air Force and families of the five Nigerian Air Force helicopter crash crewmembers that died in combat operations while supporting ground troops in Damasak, Borno State.
The Minister said he received the sad news while on operational visit to Multi National Joint Task Force Headquarters in Chad to access the operational readiness of the Task Force to clear the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists along the Lake Chad Region.
He described the crash as unfortunate, especially now that all hands are on deck to find lasting solutions to the menace of terrorism in the North East and armed banditry in the North West and other security challenges across the country.
The Minister prayed to Almighty God to grant the souls of the departed eternal rest and give their families fortitude to bear the lost. He also assured Nigerians that the lost will not affect the vigour of the war against terrorism and insurgency in the land.
Earlier, the spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola in a statement on Thursday said: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of the five 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.”
He revealed that: “The deceased personnel, whose remains have been recovered to Maiduguri, 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.”
He said: “These gallant fallen heroes made 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, commiserates with the families of the 5 fallen heroes and prays that the Almighty grants their souls peaceful repose.
“The CAS was in Maiduguri today, January 3, to convey the condolences of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammed 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. 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,” he explained.