The Nigerian Air Force yesterday, buried one of its pilots who died in a crash involving two planes rehearsing for Nigeria’s 58th Independence Day celebrations.
The director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, confirming the incidence which happened around Katampe hills, said three pilots ejected from the planes following a mishap and were rushed to the hospital.
He said that one of the pilots, squadron leader Bello Mohammed Baba-Ari, died later due to complications from injuries he sustained during the impact on the ground.
However, an eyewitness account revealed that the pilot met his death due to parachute failure. The witness who claimed to be one of the first person to attempt to rescue the pilots, said other occupants of the plane were wounded because they landed wrongly.
“I saw them in the air coming down, one of them could not remove the parachute so he landed on the ground. The two jets crashed in the air and then I saw them dangling. I went in to rescue them immediately they crashed, I saw one dead but the other two were alive. We helped them untie the parachute from their bodies. When authorities arrived, they threatened to arrest us. They drove us away,” the witness revealed.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, while commiserating with the family of the deceased, also ordered an investigation to determine the remote causes of the crash.
‘‘Two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) F-7) Ni aircraft taking part in the rehearsals for the aerial display to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary celebrations were involved in an air incident today, 28 September 2018.
‘‘The air mishap necessitated the three pilots to eject from their aircraft, which subsequently crashed in the general area of Katamkpe Hill. Regrettably, however, one of them later died due to complications from injuries sustained upon impact on the ground. Thankfully, there were no civilian casualties, a statement by the Chief of the Air Staff read in part.’’
The statement is however, silent on eyewitness accounts of the death resulting from a faulty parachute.
LEADERSHIP reports that the officer was laid to rest at the Gudu cemetery Abuja, at about 17:50 hours, according to Islamic rites.
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