House Committee Chairman On Airforce Shehu Koko has said the crashed airline was on a mission to rescue Kagara Boys before it crash-landed killing seven members on board as he commiserated with the Nigerian Air Force and families of the victims of the ill-fated military aircraft that crashed in Abuja on Sunday.
Seven persons were confirmed dead in the incident involving a NAF Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft.
Shehu Koko, Chairman of the committee said, “We highly regret the loss of our gallant officers who apparently were on a mission to rescue the kidnapped students in Kagara community in Niger State.”
Bandits had abducted staff members and students of the Science College, Kagara, in Niger State. The gunmen had in the early hours of Wednesday attacked the college, leaving a student reportedly killed while several others, as well as teachers, were abducted.
Koko, in a statement issued on Sunday and titled ‘House Committee on Air Force commiserates with Nigerian Air force, the family of victims’, said he witnessed the incident along with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka O. Amao.
Koko, who said an investigation would “begin in earnest to determine the remote cause,” expressed his condolence message on behalf of his committee to the NAF and the families.
He said, “This is to confirm that a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure en-route Minna. First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all seven personnel on board died in the crash. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.
“While mourn with families of the deceased, we urge Nigerians to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation.”
The lawmaker noted that the committee under the leadership of the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, is “deeply saddened by this development and will work with the Chief of Air Staff to unravel the remote cause.”
Koko said the committee also commiserates with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). He also prays to God to comfort the bereaved families and grant the departed souls eternal rest.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Airforce has released the names of seven of its officers who died when its aircraft, Beechcraft KingAir B350i, crashed in Abuja on Sunday
In a statement made available to journalists, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal IO Amao, has ordered an immediate probe of the accident.
Daramola said the Air Force expressed condolences to the families of the victims who have been notified of the tragic occurrence.
The NAF spokesman also said the officers were “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”.
He gave the names of the officers as:
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).
Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
Daramola added that the CAS visited the scene of the accident on Sunday in the company of the 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,” he added.