The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, shed tears on Thursday while making his speech at the burial of the Nigerian Air Force personnel who were killed in an air crash on Sunday.
The air chief paused a few times during his speech as emotions took over him, while describing the personnel as some of the finest officers in the service.
The bodies of the seven Nigerian Air Force personnel who died in a crash on Sunday were laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Abuja.
The deceased personnel are: Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama, the Captain; Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo, the Co-Pilot; Flying Officer Micheal Okpara, an Airborne Tactical Observation System Specialist; Warrant Officer Bassey Etim, ATOS Specialist; Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi, ATOS Specialist; Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka, ATOS Specialist; and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
Top NAF officials, starting with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, as well as family members of the deceased were in attendance at the burial.
Others were the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Women Affairs Minister, Dame Pauline Tallen; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the service chiefs, serving and retired top military officers, Senate and House Committees' Chairmen on NAF, among others.
The air chief on Tuesday recalled that the seven personnel were a set of fine and well-trained officers in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, operating in the North-East against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Amao said the personnel had also been involved for “days” in the search for the abducted school pupils in Kagara, Niger State, before the crash occurred on Sunday.
The air chief had stated this at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja, when he received the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who described the death of the NAF personnel as a great loss to the country.
Same day, it was reported that an investigative panel set up by the Chief of the Air Staff to probe the crash had begun sitting in Abuja on Monday, while members had also visited the scene of the fatal aircraft crash to collect evidences for examination.
The panel was instituted to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the crash which claimed seven NAF personnel who were on a mission to search for the abducted Kagara school pupils in Niger State on Sunday.
The NAF Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft had crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after reporting an engine failure en route Minna.
All the personnel on board died in the crash.