The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has said its seven personnel who died in a plane crash on Sunday were scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to rescue students and staff members abducted from Government Science College, Kagara.

NAF spokesperson, Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

People gathered at the site of the crash on Sunday

SaharaReporters had on Sunday reported how the aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201), conveying the military personnel crashed close to the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after reporting engine failure.

“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), earlier today, 21 February 2021, confirmed that one of its aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201), crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after reporting engine failure en route to Minna, where it was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State,” the statement read.

“As earlier stated, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has instituted an investigative panel to determine the remote and immediate causes of the accident. While the panel has commenced its work, the NAF, having notified the next of kins/family members of the deceased, regretfully announces that the following 7 personnel lost their lives in the crash:

“Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist), Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist) and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

“Earlier, the CAS visited the scene of the accident, in company of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and other Service Chiefs. The CAS, on behalf of officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF, once more commiserates with the families of the deceased personnel and prays that the Almighty God grants their souls eternal repose.”

Gunmen suspected to be bandits had on Wednesday stormed Government Science College, Kagara, abducting 27 students and staff members. 

While one student who tried to escape was gunned down, a member of staff luckily broke loose from captivity.

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