As aircraft and other military rescue team continued to search for debris which might be that of the missing Alpha Jet (NAF 466) of the Nigeria Air Force, local farmers in Gombi local government area of Adamawa state have, on Sunday evening, claimed to have seen an aircraft that crashed at a place near Gabun Primary School, three days after the disappearance of the jet.
Residents in a remote village called Gabun, in Gombi area of Adamawa state, yesterday claimed that they saw a ‘low-flying jumbo jet’ matching the description of the missing Alpha Jet in the early hours of yesterday after it disappeared on Friday.
Similarly several residents of Hawul, a border town in Borno, the hotbed of Boko Haram, said they saw an aircraft with green-red- stripes flying so low over the mountains as the plane’s doors were clearly visible.
Peoples Daily could not independently ascertain the veracity of the claim as at the time of filing this report. When contacted, an official from the office of the Director of Defence Information (DDI) said they have no information on the sighting of the aircraft.
The residents, who are predominantly farmers, claim they were disturbed by an incredibly loud noise on Friday and saw a plane travelling from north to south-east, towards Hawul– Gabun.
The farmers alleged sighting the wreckage around 80 kilometers away from Gombi, hours after the Yola-bound alpha jet vanished on the same day with two pilots on board.
One witness, called Adamu Bello, said, ’I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our mountains before. We’ve seen planes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly.
‘It’s not just me either; several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too’’, he said.
Other sources, said the plane crashed at Gabun, near a primary school, claiming two pilots on board, but without hurting the natives, as the pupils were reportedly not in session during the incident.
Gabun is a mountainous terrain, which runs through Biu, in Borno state, where the Boko Haram insurgents were reportedly operating.
The Nigerian military said yesterday one of its fighter jets that were operating in a northeast state where the armed forces are fighting Boko Haram militants had gone missing.
A search and rescue operation was underway for the Nigerian air force Alpha jet which was on a routine operational mission on Friday over Adamawa state when contact was lost with the aircraft, the Nigerian armed forces said in a statement.
The statement gave no more details and there was no other information available on whether the plane, which had left an air base at the Adamawa state capital Yola and had a crew of two, had crashed or been shot down.
Nigeria’s military, backed by war planes, has been fighting to push back recent advances by Boko Haram into the north of Adamawa state and also towards Maiduguri, the state capital of neighbouring Borno state.
The army said it beat back an attack outside Maiduguri on Friday.
Boko Haram, which has killed thousands since it launched its anti-government insurgency in the northeast in 2009, has in recent weeks captured and held a string of towns and villages in the region, a departure from its usual hit-and-run tactics.
Its leader Abubakar Shekau is apparently trying to follow the example of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has declared its own caliphate. Nigeria’s government has vowed to take back the seized territory from Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, the Adamawa State Acting Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has sympathized
with the Nigeria Air force over the missing fighter Jet saying that the prayers of the people are with the aircraft pilots and for their safe return to their families.
The acting governor’s disposition was contained in a press statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Comrade Solomon Kumangar.
He however saluted the resilience of the Nigerian Military and the gains they are making in the war against the insurgents.
It could be recalled that on July 21, the military had also announced that a Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Mi-35 helicopter, had gone missing and later crashed while “on a training mission”. The helicopter’s co-pilot, Flight Lieutenant NM Halilu, and the aircraft technician, Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi, survived the crash while the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Onyeka Nwakile, died in the incident.