By Ese Awhotu
The Nigerian Air Force has confirmed the death of five crew members in the helicopter crash which occurred in Damasak, Borno State.
The Nigerian Air Force, NAF Mi-35 helicopter gunship had gone missing while in combat against Boko Haram terrorists in Borno late Wednesday night.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, who confirmed the deaths in a statement yesterday, gave the names of the deceased as Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob, pilot in command; Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Kilyofas, co-pilot;
Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim, flight technician; Lance corporal Adamu Nura, gunner, and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael, gunner.
He said their remains had been deposited in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Daramola, had said, “A Nigerian Air Force helicopter was lost in combat while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion at Damasak in Northern Borno State. The mission was part of the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
“The incident occurred about 7:45pm on January 2. Details of the cause of the crash are still scanty. As soon as the details of the crash are known, they will be made available to the public.”
However, the statement by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of NAF Public Relations and Information reads; “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. Don’t ignore weather predictions, NCAA warns pilots, airline operators “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.”