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Air Force buries 7 personnel killed in Sunday air crash

Joy Anyim

The remains of the seven Nigerian Air Force (NAF) personnel, killed in Sunday air crash have been laid to rest amidst tears.

Our correspondent reports that the burial ceremony, which was conducted in full military honours, at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja, had  restricted attendance in line with  COVID-19 protocols.

Speaking at the Ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, stated that the NAF was still in palpable shock and intense grief over the loss of the gallant and courageous heroes, in whom, he said, the Service had so much confidence.

Amao who termed the deaths a hug loss to NAF and the nation, maintained that the invaluable service rendered by the seven deceased officers will not be forgotten.

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“We salute the supreme sacrifice of these young men, whose lot it became to give their lives in the defence of the peace which we all enjoy and often take for granted.

“The young officers and airmen flew their quota of ongoing surveillance missions in the North East, North West and more recently in the North Central over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the staff and students abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State, ” he said.

The CAS further stated that the loss of the confident and professional young officers and airmen must spur the rest of the personnel not only to rededicate themselves to the service of the Nation, but also to resolve that they would relentlessly expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in the society.

According to him, “We must throw everything that we have into this fight, to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain.”

While praying for the peaceful repose of the souls of the fallen heroes, AVM Amao condoled all NAF personnel, the families of the deceased and the entire Nation, whom, he said, the late personnel represented and fought earnestly to protect.

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The NAF chief also made the presentation of National Colours to the deceased’s Next-of-Kins, as he restated the commitment of  NAF to President Muhammadu Buhari, in his efforts at tackling the security challenges facing the country.

Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd); who was the Special Guest of Honour,  Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Chairman Senate Committee on Air Force, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’ Allah; Chairman House Committee on Air Force, Hon. Shehu Koko; Hon. Minister of Women Affairs, and Dame Pauline Tallen.

Other included Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo; National President Nigerian Air Force Officers’ Wives Association (NAFOWA), Mrs Elizabeth Amao; as well as serving and retired senior military officers, family members and friends of the deceased personnel, amongst other dignitaries.

Recall that the seven officers, Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama, Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo, Flying Officer Michael Okpara, Warrant Officer Bassey Etim, Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi, Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson, died after a NAF Beechcraft King Air B350i aircraft crashed  in Abuja.