How NAF pi­lot died in Abuja jet crash

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Nathaniel Bi­van & Vin­cent A. Yusuf

Two jets be­long­ing to the Nige­rian Air Force (NAF) re­hears­ing a dis­play slated for the up­com­ing In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion were in­volved in an ac­ci­dent, and crashed yes­ter­day in Abuja. One died, while two were in­jured. The crash oc­curred on the hills along Kubwa Ex­press­way, be­hind Sheme Fill­ing Sta­tion, a few kilo­me­tres from Aso Rock Villa, the na­tion’s seat of power. A re­li­able eye­wit­ness told

Daily Trust Satur­day that the air­craft were re­hears­ing a rou­tine, which in­cluded six F-7Ni jets flank­ing a larger one, which he said was a C-130.

“Part of the rou­tine was for the six jets, 3 on each side of the C-130, to bank away in op­po­site direc­tions. It was in the process of bank­ing, that two of the ones on the right brushed each other, and be­gan to tum­ble,” the eye­wit­ness nar­rated. “Both jets hur­tled down­wards, and the pi­lots ejected suc­cess­fully,” he said. The NAF’s Di­rec­tor

of Pub­lic Re­la­tions and In­for­ma­tion, Air Com­modore Ibikunle Daramola swiftly re­leased a state­ment that said “Thank­fully, no lives were lost,” and that de­tails will be com­mu­ni­cated later. A sec­ond state­ment and up­date soon fol­lowed, in which the spokesman said: “It is with a heavy heart that I re­gret­fully an­nounce that one of the pi­lots who suc­cess­fully ejected from one of the F-7Ni air­craft that crashed ear­lier to­day has passed on.” NAF sources in­formed

Daily Trust Satur­day that the lone death recorded in the in­ci­dent oc­cured due to a mal­func­tioned ejec­tor seat. The late pi­lot, Squadron Leader BM Baba’ari, of the 55th Reg­u­lar Course, whose unit is the 101 ADG in Makurdi, Benue State, was buried yes­ter­day evening ac­cord­ing to Is­lamic rites, in Abuja. He is sur­vived by a wife and chil­dren. At the scene, Daily Trust

Satur­day ob­served sev­eral mil­i­tary res­cue ve­hi­cles and an am­bu­lance evac­u­at­ing the two in­jured pi­lots. Com­muters and pedes­tri­ans joined lo­cals to throng the area, which was re­stricted by NAF per­son­nel, po­lice, of­fi­cials of the Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, the Fire Ser­vice, and Fed­eral Road Safety Corps.

Other eye­wit­nesses around the scene told Daily

Trust Satur­day that the air­craft were seen strug­gling from Gwarimpa axis, be­fore fi­nally crash­ing. An eye­wit­ness, who gave his name as Mr. Em­manuel Adams O. Aliyu, said it was clear the pi­lots strug­gled with their jets from Gwarimpa, to en­sure they were in an un­pop­u­lated area be­fore eject­ing, in order to save lives. “Hon­estly, I see them as he­roes,” he said.

PHOTO: Ikechukwu Ibe

Ikechukwu Ibe

Wreck­age of one of the jets PHO­TOS:

Late Squadron Leader Baba’ari

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