Two pilots of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and three other personnel aboard a military helicopter reportedly died when the aircraft crashed in combat with Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.
The Director of NAF Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, announced the death of the soldiers in a statement on Thursday.
“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, 2 January 2019, while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion, Damasak in Borno State,” he said.
The NAF personnel include Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – pilot in command, and Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – co-pilot.
Others are Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim – flight technician, Lance Corporal Adamu Nura – gunner, and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael – gunner.
Air Commodore Daramola disclosed that the remains of the deceased personnel have been recovered and taken to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
“These gallant fallen heroes made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our Fatherland, for which the NAF, and indeed the entire Nation, owe them an unending debt of gratitude,” he said.
“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 five fallen heroes and prays that the Almighty grants their souls peaceful repose.”
The Air Force spokesman revealed that following the incident, the Air Chief paid a condolence visit to Maiduguri on Thursday.
According to him, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar was in Borno 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.