Pilot, co-pilot and three other crew members of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter that crashed on Wednesday while providing air support for ground troops in Damasak, Borno State, were confirmed dead Thursday.
NAF had issued a statement on Wednesday, saying the helicopter gunship and its crew members were missing in action.
But the deaths of the crew members of the aircraft were confirmed by NAF’s spokesman, Mr Ibikunle Daramola, an air commodore.
Chief of Air Staff, Mr Sadique Abubakar, and Chief of Army Staff, Mr Yusuf Buratai, have paid condolence visit to Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri.
An Air Force statement said the remains of the fallen crew members had been recovered.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of the five crew members on board Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Mi-35M Helicopter, which crashed in combat yesterday, while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion, Damasak in Borno State.
“The deceased personnel, whose remains have been recovered to Maiduguri, are: Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob – Pilot in Command; Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas – Co-Pilot; Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim – Flight Technician; Lance Corporal Adamu Nura – Gunner; and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael – Gunner.
“These gallant fallen heroes made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our fatherland, for which the nation, owe them an unending debt of gratitude.
“Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Sadique Abubakar, on behalf all officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of NAF, commiserates with the families of the five fallen heroes and prays that the Almighty grants their souls peaceful repose.
“CAS was in Maiduguri today, (yesterday) to convey the condolences of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammed Buhari, to personnel of Air Task Force Operation Lafiya Dole over the unfortunate loss. While in Maiduguri, CAS also received a condolence visit from Chief of Army Staff, Lietenant General Tukur Buratai.
“NAF appreciates the overwhelming support shown by the public to the Service over the sad incident.
“We continue to solicit your understanding and support as we daily strive to ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians,” NAF said in a statement.