Pilot who flew the ill-fated Nigerian Air Force aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama.

Air Force begins plane crash probe, buries victims today

The seven Nigerian Air Force officers who died in Sunday’s air crash will be buried at the National Cemetery, Lugbe, Airport road, Abuja, today (Thursday).

The NAF disclosed this on Wednesday in an invitation to journalists.

The Beechcraft King Air B350i in which they were flying crashed after reporting engine failure.

The deceased include the Captain, Fl. Lt. Haruna Gadzama; Fl. Lt. Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot); Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System Specialist); Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist); Fl. Sgt. Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist); Sgt. Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist) and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

The CAS said the personnel before their death had been in Minna, Niger State, for days conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions in connection with the efforts to secure the release of the 42 students and staff abducted from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force says it has commenced investigation on its plane which crashed in Abuja on Sunday, killing seven.

The NAF spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday.

Daramola did not however disclose when the investigation will end.

He said, “I can confirm to you that the investigation has started. It is ongoing.

“I can’t say how long it will last, that is left for the panel to decide. What I know is that investigation has started.”

Daramola also faulted those who hold the belief that the Accident Investigation Bureau, and not the NAF, ought to have investigated the crash.

He added, “That position is not correct. It is our responsibility to investigate what went wrong. That is how the military works.”

Also, the Accident Investigation Bureau said on Wednesday that it was not saddled with the task of investigating aircraft accidents or incidents in the military.

Reacting to comments by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on the need for AIB to investigate the recent crash of an aircraft of the Nigerian Air Force, the bureau stated that it was outside its mandate to do so.

AIB’s spokesperson, Tunji Oketunbi, told our correspondent that the agency would only investigate the accident if the aircraft involved was a civil aviation airplane.

Oketunbi said, “We cannot investigate that accident. I read part of what he (Falana) said and the fact is that accidents that we investigate are civil aviation accidents.

“The aircraft that crashed in Abuja last Sunday is not a civil aviation aircraft but belongs to the NAF and as such it is outside our mandate to investigate the crash.”

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