By Suleiman Umaru
This is not the best of times for the military top hierarchy, particular, Isiaka Oladayo Amao. An Air Marshall, and Chief of Air Staff, CAS. This is because of the crash of it four Alpha Fighter Jets between March 31, 2021 and Sunday, July 18, 2021.The most recent of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF fighter Jets which had crashed on Sunday, July 18, 2021, somewhere in Kaduna state, was said to be returning from an interdiction operation to support the ground troops on the boundary between the north central states of Zamfara and Kaduna.
Informed sources told The Value News that the crashed fighter Jet had left its operational base in Yola, Capital of Adamawa, home state of Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Part, PDP, IN the 2019, general elections, in the morning of that Sunday.
Breaking the news of the Alpha fighter Jet crash to bewildered Nigerians, Edward Gabkwet, a Commodore and Director of NAF, Public Relations and Information, confirmed that the crash had occurred due to ‘’the intense fire from the armed bandits’’, confirming the report making the rounds that the Zamfara based Bandits which are Collaborating with the Late Abubakar Shekau and the Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP, insurgents, based in the north easy geopolitical region are equipped with sophisticated weapons by their foreign backers and local sponsors.
Commodore Gabkwet, had said that the Bandits had fired severally at Abayomi Dairo, a Flight Lieutenant and the Pilot who was said to have successfully ejected from the aircraft, with the intention to kill him in order to use him as evidence to show that the Alpha Jet was shot down by them but were disappointed.
The Pilot was said to have sought refuge in a nearby settlement awaiting for sunset to continue his movement to locate a nearby military unit that would guarantee his safety .According to the NAF, spokesperson, ‘’using the cover of darkness and his phone set for Navigation, had helped him to elude the Bandits strongholds in the Zamfara forest as, he maneuvered his way to a military unit where he was finally rescued’’.
When then news of the Fighter Jet crash filtered out to the ears of Air Marshall Amao, the CAS, he was said to have directed that all NAF, Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance. ISR, Platforms and helicopter gunships be provide d with close air support to the Special Forces and the troops who were able to locate the crash site and the Pilot’s Parachute.
The Special Forces and troops, were still combing the Zamfara forest in search of the Pilot but unknown to them he had escaped into the safe hands of the soldiers at a military unit using his phone Navigation to direct his movement under the cover of darkness.
Many had given kudos to AirMarshall Amao, for coming out to tell Nigerians that it was the intense firing of the Bandits on the Alpha Fighter Jet that cause it to crash instead of coming out to blame it on bad or loss of contact with the radar.
Recall that when the NAF Alpha Fighter Jet that had crashed at Abba –Jille village in Konduga Local government Area of Borno, described as one of the hotspot in the insurgency war in the north east and about 30Kms to Maiduguri, the state Capital, and in which the BokoHaram insurgents had released a video claiming responsibility to have shot down the aircraft, but the NAF, would not agree.
Commodore Gabkwet,he NAF, spokesperson, had said that the Fighter Jet had crashed in the north east state of Borno because’’ it had lost contact with the radar while on the interdiction mission in support of the ground troops on March 31,2021’’
.Prior to the crash of the aircraft, tit was sighted by villagers hovering around Goni Kurmiri and Njimia villages after attacking the BokoHam insurgents Camp at the Sambisa Forest axis, fueling speculations making the rounds that it may have been badly hit by the enemy’s intense fire which forced it to crash somewhere in the Konduga Local Government Area.
The NAF Authorities may have refused to give credit to the BokoHaram Insurgents for shooting down the plane in order not to dampen the enthusiasms of the Pilots going such Special Assignments in the future for fear of losing control whe the firing rfrom the enemy’s Camp become intense. It is on record that John Abolarinwa, Flt.Lt. and Ebiakpo Chapele, a Flt. Lt and Co. Pilot were killed in the aircraft crash.
Note that the NAF Borno state aircraft crash was said to have been quickly followed with May, 2021, crash in Kaduna state, which had resulted in the death of Ibrahim Attahiru, a Lt. General and the former Chief of COAS and some other top Armyofficers accopanyng him on an official engagement in the state. The plane was said to have crashed while trying to Land at the Kaduna International Airport due to the bad weather.
Theree is no gainsaying the fact that the NAF, Authorities may have stepped up their air Surveillance Reconnaissance in the last couple of weeks in the north west geopolitical region, particular, in keeping to Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, promise to rid the country of Insurgency, Banditry and other Criminal gangs activities in other different parts the country before the February 18, 2023, general elections.
Note that the Katsina state born Nigerian President had given a matching order to Lucky Irabour, a General and the Chief of Defence Staff, overseeing the Multinational Task Force, MNJTF, Farouk Yahaya, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, and Air Marshall Amao, the CAS, to use the ground troops and airpower to flush out the Bandits in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states including the Insurgents in the north east making life difficult for the people.
This may have informed why the NAF, in conjunction with other surface forces, particular, the Army, had’’ mounted day and night air interdiction operations against the Bandits and their hideouts in the forest of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states’’, forcing many of them to escape deeper into the forest between Nigeria and Niger Republic to regroup.
At present, Air Marshall Amao, the CAS, could beat his chest that hundreds of the Bandits have been killed and several of their Camps destroyed in the last couple of weeks of the intensified air bombardment of the hideouts of the Bandits in Zamfara state. Ibrahim Dosara, the Zamfara state Commissioner for Information had said that there are over 100 Bandit camps in the state and beyond with over 30,000 Bandits, terrorizing the north east geo-political region.
Aware that the Nigerian government are out to dislodge Completely from the country may have informed why the Bandits have resorted to ambush of security operatives in the in the state in the recent time to show that they are still a force to be reckoned despite the air strikes that had killed many of their fighters in Zamfara and Kaduna states.
The Bandits may have sent a signal to Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police,IGP, that they are not discouraged by the air strikes killing hundrds of their fighters as they are prepared to hit back at the security agencies personnel in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, regarded as the three Hotspots states in the north west geopolitical region, through any means.
The recent ambush of a team of mobile security officers who were responding to distress calls in Communities within and around Kura Mota village in Bungudu Local Government Area of the north west state and killing 13 of them speaks volume.
Mohammed Shehu, the Zamfara state Police Command spokesperson had said that the officers ran into the Bandits ambush, stating that they exhibited resilience and gallantry by engaging them in a gun duel, thus forestalling them from attacking the Community under siege and more Communities in the state. Perhaps, to avoid a repeat of such attack in this Sallah, the Police Authorities had had deployed over 2000 , policemen to Zamfara state , to beef up its security.
In spite of the Celebrations in the Bandits Camp about the NAF, fighter Jet that they had fired down in Zamfara state and the ambush that had resulted in the killing of 13 mobile officers in state, Air Marshall Amao, the CAS, had made it clear to those that cares to listen that they would ‘’remain ‘’committed towards fulfilling the Nigerian President’s mandate to the military to flush out the Criminal gangs in the flashpoint states in the north east and north west as well as fulfilling other Constitutional responsibilities assigned to it.
Only recently, NAF Authorities, winged six new helicopter Pilots who were said to have Completed their basic flying training at Draken Helicopter Academy in the United Kingdom, UK. An elated Amao had said that that the exercise would further ‘’boost the operational manpower development in the Air Force’’. The Air Marshall, had repeatedly said that ‘’the human component is the most critical air power component that must be enhanced and sustained for effective and efficient performance in order to support the ground troops’’.
He had revealed nthat a total of 195 officers and airmen/women undergoing courses abroad cutting across several specialties and trades.
The CAS, had said that there are 12 student Pilots undergoing basic fighter training at 403 Flying Training school, Kano while another 10 officers are undergoing Basic Transport Training at 401 Flying Training school in Kaduna. The Air Force Chief who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the courses were aimed at maintaining the combat readiness of the NAF by increasing the number of Pilots to man the existing aircraft, including the 26 new Platforms that had been acquired by the overnment over the last six years’’.
In a related development, Ade Nigerian Police working in Collaboration with the Benin Republic Gendarmes were said to have arrested Sunday Adeyemo, popular, Sunday Igboho, who is at forefront for the actualization of the Oduduwa Republic , in the neighbouring West African country. That much was confirmed by Banji Akintoye, a Professor. But there have not been official Statement from the Force.
The Yoruba secessionist Leader was said to have been arrested at the Cotonou, Airpor, on Monday, July, JULY 19, 2021, night by the security the security operatives in Benin Republic while trying to flee to Germany. Nnamdi Kanu, the acclaimed Leader of the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, who is currently in Department State Security , DSS, custody, and also facing trial on account of Terrorism, treasonable felony, illegal possession of arm and other charges in a Federal High Court in Abuja.
With the arrest of Igboho, who has been on the wanted list of the DSS, by the Beninois security operatives and moves by the government to facilitate his repatriation to Nigeria, he would also be charged to Court. With the arrest of Igboho, by the Benininois security Forces, brings to an end the manhunt for him by the DSS and weakening of his associates to continue the struggle for the actualisation n of the Oduduwa Republic.