Insecurity: NAF Suffers A Major Set back As Abubabakar Led NPC, Intervenes To Restore Peace In the Country

By Stephen Ubanna

Two days after a Nigerian Air Force Authorities raised alarm of the disappearance of its Alpha fighter jet on an interdiction mission  in Borno state as part of  the ongoing  counter insurgency operations in the north east,  the Islamic Fundamentalist group , BokoHaram, insurgents , has claimed responsibility for shooting down the fighter Jet.

The fighter Jet which was last seen flying around  Goni Kurmi and Njimia villages after attacking  the BokoHaram insurgents Locations at the Sambia forest was said to have crashed  around the Konduga  Local government  Area of the state, described as one of the strong holds of the insurgents, confirming the fear of the AirForce Authorities that it might have crashed.

 Many see it as a major set back  to the c ounter insurgency war in the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe as the NAF, lose two of its best  pilots- FLT. LTs. John Abolarinwa and Ebiakpo Chapele, in one operations in Borno state.

naf Alpha Jet, On Interdiction Mission In Borno State Which Disappeared From Radar

 The initial rumour making the rounds when the NAF Alpha Jet disappeared from the radar and the Crew could no longer be contacted was that the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, fighters who occupy the Lake Chad region bordering three West African countries-Nigeria, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroon ma have developed engine fault  and subsequently shot down by the ISWAP  fighters.

The thinking may have been informed because of the mrecent activities of the ISWAP fighters  attacking military bases and carting away military  equipment and gun fitted vehicles, thus, becoming a major threat to the Nigeria Army and the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, which now reports directly to Leo Irabor, an army General and Chief of Defence Staff, CDS.

Wreckage Of NAF Crashed Plane

The Boko Haram insurgents, who occupy the Sambisa forest in Borno state may have shocked Nigerians when it released an unverified videothat it had been shot down the Nigerian Fighter Jet. Many believe that the loss of the NAF  fighter Jet with registration No.475, was a big blow to the ground troops who relies solely  on air power to  stop  the spread  BokoHaram and ISWAP, from spreading to other states of the Federation , particular, the northern states.

There is no gain saying the fact that the ground troops had for years reied  on the NAF, Alpha Jet bombardments of the sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region  to turn the tide of the battles against the insurgents. The BokoHaram unverified video, which was reported by Reuters on Friday, April 2, 2021, had shown the wreckage  of the fighter Jet aircraft on the ground and the charred fuselage bearing the inscription NAF.

A masked BokoHaram fighter was said to have been  found   atop the aircraft wreckage and was bold enough to identify the crashed plane  as the Jet fighter  of NAF475, the footage of the video further  shows. The unverified BokoHaram video released by SITES Intelligence  group which monitors the Jihadist activities had shown  the mangled Corpse of the suspected two Crew members  in military fatigues.

In spite of the fact that the BokoHaram insurgents had released an unofficial  video to claim responsibility for shoting  down the NAF Jet fighter, Isiaka Olayo Amao, an Air Marshall and Chief of Air Staff, CAS, and his men, would not take it.  Edward   Gabkwet ,an Air  Commodore and Director , NAF,  Public Relations and Information had  reported  that the AirForce Jet fighter  AF475,  disappeared from the radar with two Crew members  on board on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 and might have crashed in an undisclosed location.

Air Marshall Amao: CAS

Given the intensified search for the missing Alpha Jet, the Air Force Authorities are optimistic that the two Crew members of the Alpha fighter Jet would still be found and resued. Gbbkwet, the NAF, spokesperson who had  issued a statement had assured other Air Force Pilots that the two Crew members of the Alpha fighter Jet would be rescued to sustain the bombardment of the sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region.  

Recall that last February, a NAF, air craft , which was on its way  to rescue the 42 people kidnapped by bandits, in the north central state of Minna, but crashed shortly after leaving the Nnamdi  Azikiwe International Airport over alleged engine failure, killing all seven people on board, including the Pilot and Co-pilot.

 This is  an indication that most of the NAF, Alpha fighting Jets have engine problem and needed to be properly serviced  to put aircrafts  in good  air-worthy condition before taking them on any interdiction mission in the mission in Borno or any part of the country in the future.

Although, the Nigerian soldiers and the MNJTF, are doing everything within their capacity to contain the spread of the activities of the insurgents from spreading to the neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and the Central African country of  Cameroon but that was how far they could go.

 The insurgency which had started in Nigeria in 2009 , had already spread  to these neighbouring countries to Nigeria, fueling speculations making the rounds that there those who want to Nigeria to be balkanized.

This is where Presidents Buhari, Paul Biya , Cameroon and Marshall Idris Derby Itno, of Chad Republic, may have to bury their differenes and swallow their pride  to work as a Team, to be able to defeat these Jihadists who have  crippled  the economic activities in their respective countries over the last decade.

Gen.Abubakar,rtd: NPC Chairman

Abdulsalami abubakar, a retired Army General and former Head of State , who incidentally is the Chairman of the National Peace Council, NPC, a Non-Profit Organisation, comprising of Rev. Father Kuka, Bishop of SokoDiocese, Aliko Dangote, a business mogul, among others, may have read the handwriting on the wall that there is danger ahead.

As a prelue to the NPC, plnned meeting to address the insecurity situation in the country, Abubakar, was said to have met with the Katsina state born Nigerian President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Fedral Capital Territory, FCT. The duo were said to held a closed door meeting to the high level of insecurity  across the country, and the issues  discussed remained a closely guided secret as neither Garba Sheu nor Femi Adesina, both Media and Publicity Aide, to the Nigerian President maintained a closed lips to what was discussed at the top level meeting.

Political analysts who have been following the activities of the NPC, over the last six years said the meeting  may not be unconnected  to the escalating  spate of  insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, regional agitations, killings of innocent people and other forms of violence across the country.

The retired army General, who had midwifed the fourth Republic, may have sounded a note of warning to the Nigerian President who has been under intense pressure from different quarters  to Negotiate with these bandits, described as heartless people in security circles, never to do so.

He has made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’Negotiating with the bandits is not the best option to combat  banditry in the country but would worsen it.

This may have informed why he has urged the state governors   that all hands must be on deck to ensure that the insecurity menace  in the country is tackled appropriately.  The NPC Chairman may have been forced to speak out after a meeting with the governors in his Minna home, Niger state, last Tuesday. The former military Head of state , who is not  over what is happening among the governors  was said to have pleaded with to bury their hatchets and work as  a Team, to support the Federal government efforts to bring an end to the insecurity situation in the country.

Abubakar, who could not hide his feelings had said that  the nation’s security situation  is overstretched, noting that  the Force, under the close watch of Mohammed Adamu, is underpopulated, an indication that there is need to recruit   fresh hands into the Force to strengthen their  ability to maintain peace and order in the country. 

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