The atmosphere was filled with sorrow and the mood solemn as the remains of the late chief of army staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and those of 10 other members of Armed Forces were interred at the National military cemetery, Abuja, yesterday.
Those who made speeches at their graveside poured encomiums on the deceased military officers who died in the course of serving their fatherland.
Defence minister, Major General Salihi Magashi (retd), Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, Vice Admiral Auwal Gambo and other dignitaries were on hand to pay their last respects to Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others in his entourage who died on Friday in an air mishap at the Kaduna International Airport after landing.
On General Attahiru’ entourage were Brigadier-General Mohammed Abdulkadir, Brigadier-General Olatunji Olayinka, Brigadier-General Abdulrahman Kuliya, Major Lawal Aliyu Hayat, Major Nura Hamza and Sergeant Umar Saidu, an orderly to the COAS.
The crew men were Flight-Lieutenant Alfred Ayodeji Olufade, Flight-Lieutenant Taiwo Olufemi Asaniyi, Sergeant Adesina Isaiah and Aircraftman Oyedepo Matthew.
The remains of Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others arrived in Abuja for burial yesterday. While the remains of the late army chief and those of five others were taken to the National Mosque for funeral rites, those of five others were taken to the Nigeria Air Force Protestant Church for requiem service.
Those taken to the mosque with Attahiru were his chief of staff, Brig.-Gen. Idris Abdulkadir, chief of military intelligence Brig.-Gen. Abdulrahman Kuliya, and Attahiru’s aide de camp, Major L.A Hayat.
Others are the finance officer, Major A. Hamza, and Attahiru’s orderly, Sgt. Saidu Umar.
The remains of the army provost marshal, Brig.-Gen. O.L Olayinka and crew members: Flt.-Lt. T.O Osaniyi, Flt.-Lt. A.A Olufade, Sgt. Adesina and ACM Oyedepo were taken to the church for the funeral service.
All the bodies were afterwards moved to the military cemetery along Airport Road, Abuja, for interment.
Military officers, families and well-wishers all gathered for the funeral.
Dignitaries at the event include former army chiefs Abdulrahman Dambazzau and Azubuike Ihejirika; minister of information, Lai Mohammed; Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai; Speaker Kaduna State House of Assembly Kaduna State governor; wives of Service Chiefs; minister of defence, Salihi Magashi, who represented President Muhamamadu Buhari, and chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, among others.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), said this was a trying period for the country, adding that the dead officers were among the country’s finest.
He said, “It is tragedy to the nation and we must do all we can to them. They were known for their uncommon loyalty to the nation, a virtue that is required of all of us at this trying moment”.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo commiserated with the President Muhamadau Buhari, families, friends and colleagues of the late chief of army staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers who died in the air crash.
In a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande , the vice president said the gallantry of these heroes would always be remembered.
According to Prof Osinbajo, their death, while in active service in the defence of our country, reflects the depth of sacrifice military officers, men and women of the other ranks are often prepared to make.
“We honour the service of the Army Chief and all those involved in this unfortunate accident even as we continue to demonstrate our profound appreciation to all in our military services and in harm’s way. The gallantry of these heroes would always be remembered,” he said.
Don’t Let This Demoralise You, Abdulsalami, Agwai Tell Armed Forces
Former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and former chief of defence staff, Gen Martin Luther Agwai have called on the Nigeria Armed Forces not to allow the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Attahiru Ibrahim, and 10 other officers to dampen their morale.
RELATED: COAS: Details Of Plane Crash, Burial To Be Out Soon – Army
Abdulsalami described the air mishap that killed the Army Chief and other officers in Kaduna on Friday as a national disaster but added that officers and men of the armed forces should keep their morale high in the fight against insecurity.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the former head of state said even though the incident is unfortunate, the officers and men of the Nigerian Army should ensure the death of the chief of army staff did not be in vain.
“Let me extend my condolences to the Commander-in-chief and the members of the armed forces. It is very unfortunate that we lost the chief of army staff and other officers with him. This should not affect the morale of the armed forces. They should continue to work hard. The death of the chief of army staff should not go in vain,” the former head of state said.
“The honour the officers and men of the armed forces can give to the late Chief of Army Staff is to continue to fight the insurgency and try to bring security back to the country,” Abdulsalami added.
Also speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday, Gen Martins Luther Agwai urged the serving officers and men of the Nigerian Military to ensure that they succeed in the mission the late Attahiru was passionate to achieve.
Agwai said it is a sad moment for Nigeria but that the officers and men of the Nigeria Army must ensure they keep his mission alive.
“It is a very sad moment for all of us as a country, the armed forces and particularly, the Army. To lose the chief of army staff is a great blow. But I believe the greatest service they can do for him is not only to mourn him, but they should succeed in the mission he had wanted.
“If they are able to fight and contain the insurgency in Nigeria and bring stability to the country, it is the greatest service they can do for him,” Agwai said, urging the officers not to allow the incident to dampen their morale.
“Let them (army officers) not allow this to dampen their morale. For the love and respect they have for him, they should make sure the mission is accomplished. I wish all of them the very best. God will provide them with another leader that will see them through,” Agwai added.
In his remarks entitled ‘love for country,’ the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, said the death of the senior officers was painful but “certainly not in vain”.
He said, “It is deeply saddening that I have to give these remarks on this occasion. Why are we here? Love for country? How did we get here? Love for country. What is the purpose of the oath of allegiance? Love for country.
“Yesterday the 21 day of May was a very sad day for the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Yesterday was a sad day for the nation as I received with shock and utter dismay the gloomy news of the sudden demise of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other gallant officers and personnel. The loss of our gallant and energetic but calm Chief of Army Staff, and other heroes of patriotic zeal and love for our country is painful, but certainly not in vain.
“Today, the recruits of depot Nigerian Army were to be on Passing out Parade to herald their joining the workforce of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. The Chief of Army Staff was to be the special guest of honour at the event. One of our finest and best pilots was conveying him along with the entourage, after landing at the Kaduna International Airport, the cold hands of death which manifested in the stormy weather ended that journey.”
“ “It is it is human for me to recall and with a sense of loss, my personal experience with him at the Nigeria Army Training and Doctrine Command, that was where I fondly call him my second in command. Together, we shared talks on moving the Armed Forces, especially the Nigerian Army in particular, forward. This was actually what we were doing on the day that the COAS and I were called by the Minister of Defence to report to Abuja. These are moments I will forever cherish. He had a distinguished career and the unique privilege of commanding with distinction along the tactical, operational and strategic levels of military engagement”.
Born on August 10, 1966 in Doka, Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Gen. Attahiru began his cadet training at Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer.
He holds a master’s degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the NDA, and has held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in-command during his military career.
He had a tour of duty with the United Nations in Sierra Leone as a Military Observer, where he facilitated United Kingdom military engagement, Operation BARASS, in September 2000.
He was an Operation Officer and later Company Commander in NIBATT 19 ECOMOG Operations in Liberia.
Also, he had the unique privilege of having commanded with distinction all through the chain of command in the Nigerian Army.
Prominent among these appointments are Commanding Officer 146 Battalion Nigerian Army (Operation HARMONY IV) in the Bakassi Peninsula; Commander 13 Brigade Nigerian Army (Operation PULO SHIELD), General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Nigerian Army.
He was one time Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The COAS was only in his position for 115 days, having been appointed on January 26, 2021. On March 29, 2021, he presided over the Chief of Army Staff Combined Conference in Abuja.
This is in addition to several operational visits to various theatres of operations
The late army chief and his entourage were on their way to Depot Nigeria Army for Passing Out Parade of new recruits on Saturday May 22, 2021, when the tragic crash took their lives.
Among the crew men were Flt Lt T.O Asaniyi, Flt Lt. A.A Olufade, Sgt. Adesina and ACM Oyedepo.
Late Flight Lieutenant Taiwo Olufemi Asaniyi was born on 25 February 1992, in Ibadan. He hailed from Ona Ara Local Government Area of Oyo State.
He was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 62 on 14 August 2010 and commissioned a Pilot Officer on 12 September, 2015.
He was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant on 14 August 2020.
The officer has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Flight Lieutenant Asaniyi had attended several flying courses in USA, UAE and UK.
Until his demise, he was serving as a Squadron Pilot at 307 Executive Airlift Group, Abuja, and attached to directorate of Training, NAF Headquarters.
The late Flight Lieutenant Asaniyi was married and loved singing, reading and running.
NAF officials on Friday night paid a condolence visit to the family of Flt.-Lt. Taiwo Asaniyi, pilot of the ill-fated Beechcraft 350 plane that crashed i
Asaniyi and three other crew members died in the crash.
Air Commodore Peter Simeon, who is the Commander of the 671 NAF base detachment, Akobo, Ibadan, led other officers to the late pilot’s residence in Ibadan to console the aged parents.
Responding on behalf of the family, Deacon Adeleke, who thanked the NAF for the early visit, pleaded for immortalisation of all the deceased.
He advised that the government should always remember the families of the deceased.
Another of the deceased, the late Flight Lieutenant Alfred Ayodeji Olufade was born on 19 February 1992 in Suleja.
He hails from Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State and was enlisted into the Nigerian Air Force as a member of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 61 on 15 August 2009 and commissioned a Pilot Officer on 13 September 2014.
He was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant on 15 August 2019.
The Officer had a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Flight Lieutenant Olufade had also attended several courses in the UK, USA and UAE. Until his demise, he was serving as a Squadron pilot at 307 Executive Airlift Group, Abuja.
The late Flight Lieutenant Olufade was married and loved playing volleyball and football.
Friends and sympathisers have expressed sadness over the demise of Alfred Ayodeji Olufade..
Hours after the confirmation of the flight lieutenant’s death, pictures and videos from his wedding in February — about three months ago — began to circulate on social media.
Late Aircraftman Oyedepo Olamide Mathew was born on 20th March 1998 at Oba Igbatoma in Osun State. He was recruited into the Nigerian Air Force as a non-tradesman and was later granted initial rank of Aircraftman as Aircraft Technician.
After the completion of his Basic Military Training at Military Training Centre, Kaduna, he was posted to 203 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Yola.
Thereafter, he was posted to 307 Executive Airlift Group, Abuja where he was serving before his death.
The late Aircraftman Oyedepo was obedient, disciplined and dedicated to his job. He was single.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that before the latest military plane crash, there had been two other crashes this year alone.
On February 21, 2021, a King Air Beechcraft B350i aircraft crashed in Abuja killing all onboard.
Onboard were seven NAF personnel on Reconnaissance and surveillance missions in Niger State.
Also on March 31,2021, a Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet went missing while providing air support to ground troops in Borno state. The aircraft with two crew men is yet to be located and remains a mystery.
Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army, Major General Benjamin Ahanotu, in his funeral oration, described the late Chief of Army Staff as a disciplined, gallant and professional soldier who added value to wherever he worked.
AIB-N To Conduct Kaduna Crash
The Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria (AIB -N), has been mandated by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to lead the investigation into the crash of a military aircraft that occurred on Friday in Kaduna, in which the chief of army staff died.
General Manager, Public Affairs of the Accident Investigation Bureau, Tunji Oketunbi, said that the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) from the crashed Beechcraft 350 aircraft had been recovered and that investigation had commenced.
He explained that the mandate given to AIB-N was based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two agencies on July 1, 2020 covering areas of mutual assistance.
According to him, “Investigators will download and analyse vital information contained in the recorders at the AIB-N’s world class Flight Safety Laboratory in Abuja.”