Tears flow uncontrolled as 7 Air Force crash victims are buried


Seven personnel of Nigerian Air Force who lost their lives in Sunday’s plane crash have been buried at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.

The officers were crew members of the ill-fated Beechcraft King Air 350 that crashed at Bassa village near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport while on a reconnaissance mission in connection with the rescue of the 42 students and staff abducted from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.

A statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigeria Airforce, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola says the Aircraft reported engine failure shortly after take-off from Abuja and were on their way back to base when the crash occurred.

The deceased were 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).

Family members and friends of the deceased officers, including serving female military personnel, broke down in tears during the funeral.

Speaking to newsmen amid tears, Mrs Oluwasola Sola, elder sister of  Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), said her brother was on leave when he was called by his superior to come for an operation.

According to her, only he has been taking care of the entire family members, particularly their aged mother. She said the victim left behind three children, including a one-year old son.

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She recalled that only two persons were shortlisted by the Nigerian Air Force in the entire Ekiti State when Olawunmi joined the military in 2001.

Mrs Sola added that the victim recently complained of how the officers were being treated, promising to resign soon.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal, Oladayo Amao; the minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed and many other top government functionaries were in attendance.

Speaking while the crew was being laid to rest, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Oladayo Amao asked officers and men of the Nigerian Airforce to remain committed to the fight against terrorism in a bid to ensure that the sacrifices of their comrades will not be in vain.