116 Days After: Lt Gen Attahiru Dies In Plane Mishap

 

…buries today at National Military Cemetery

By: Okosun Dennis

116 days after the ebullient Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt General Attahiru Ibrahim was appointed by the President, Mohammedu Buhari as the 25th indigenous COAS, he was killed in a plane crash in Kaduna on Friday evening.

A military source confirmed that he was met to honour the Passing Out Parade (PoP) of Regular Intakes at the Depot, Nigerian Army, Zaria which would take place this morning in Kaduna.

Meanwhile, the COAS and six other senior officers that died in the crash would be laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery today, 22nd May, 2021 by 1300 hours Army spokesperson has announced early today.

Although reasons for the crash is unknown as investigation has commenced immediately, the Director, Defence Information (DDI), Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu said in a statement on Friday night that “The unfortunate incident occurred after landing at the Kaduna International Airport due to inclement weather.

However, a military source disclosed that the following officers were involved in the crash. Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the Chief of Army Staff; Brig. Gen. Abdurahman Kuliya (Chief of Military Intelligence); Brig Gen MI Abdulkadir (Chief of Staff to the COAS); Brig Gen Olatunji Olayinka (Army Provost Marshal); Maj. L. A. Hayat (ADC to COAS); Maj. Hamza; and the Orderly, Sergeant Umar.

The crew members were Flt. Lt. T. O. Asaniyi; Flt. Lt. A. A. Olufade; Sergeant Adesina; and ACM Oyedepo.

“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor has, therefore, directed that an Accident Investigation Board be constituted to unravel the immediate and remote cause(s) of the unfortunate accident.

“As we pray for the repose of the souls of our gallant and committed Chief of Army Staff and other personnel on board with him, the AFN solicits the support and understanding of all Nigerians in the face of this tragic incident.

“We wish to state that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remains resolute in combating the security challenges bedeviling our nation. The sacrifices of our dearly departed heroes will not be in vain.

Earlier, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Airforce, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet who had confirmed the crash said in a statement that: “An air crash involving a @NigAirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport.

“The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon,” he reiterated.

AIR DISASTER INVOLVING AIRFORCE PLANES

Since the appointment of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), the same day with the COAS, this is the third military plane that had crashed killing all the occupants.

On the 21st February, 2021, the nation was thrown into mourning on Sunday as a Nigerian Airforce plane crashed close to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja killing seven on board.

The former Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Vice Marshall Ibikunle Daramola had confirmed the crash in his twitter handle that “this is to confirm that a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.

Also, the Nigerian Airforce Force reported on the 2nd April, 2021 that the Alpha Jet NAF 475 may have crashed after disappearing during a mission in the Northeast of the country and that extensive search-and-rescue efforts were underway to find it and the two pilots. Till date, no one can say categorically what has happened to the jet as its wreckage has not been found; even though investigations are ongoing.

The two pilots killed were Flight Lieutenant Chapele Ebiakpo and Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa while on an interdiction mission in support of ground troops as part of the ongoing counterinsurgency operations in the North-East when it lost contact with the radar. The loss of radar contact occurred at about 5:08 p.m. on 31 March 2021,”

And now a Beachcraft 350 plane. This is coming a day after the Nigerian Air Force inducted three JF-17 Thunder multirole aircraft.

The Nigerian Air Force has inducted three newly acquired JF-17 Thunder multi-role aircraft on the 20 May and was performed by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari. The induction marked the end of NAF Day Celebration 2021.The aircraft will serve as NAF’s frontline multi-role fighter jet.

LT GEN ATTAHIRU as COAS

Since his appointment on the 26th January, 2021, the Kaduna born Chief had hit the ground running by taking the fight into the insurgents enclaves at the Sambisa Forest hence the huge impact he made leading to the arrest of key combatants and neutralising so many insurgents.

While on maiden visit to see the troops at the Operation Lafiya Dole’s theatre of operation now Operation Hadin Kai, Gen Attahiru visited Maiduguri where he presented himself to the troops and interracted with them.

During the meeting, he said, “I present myself to you as the COAS, where I get to meet you and you get to know me as well. The essence of this meeting is strictly operational. The idea is to motivate you.

“In the last few days, we had attacks in your Area of Responsibilities. Areas that have mountains must be cleared within 48hours. You can’t let the nation down and I will provide the logistics to ensure you do your work well,” he explained.

Having been appointed by President Mohammadu Buhari, after years of mounting criticism over spreading violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs, which saw the killings of over 30,000 and over 2 million people displaced, a lot of energies have been dissipated to ensure that the insurgents and other banditry were eliminated.

Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP) have constitently waged a decade-long insurgency on Nigeria which has stretched the Nigerian military beyond its elasticity.

In the last 116 days despite adopting different strategies and approaches to neutralise the insurgents, it has not been a tea-party for the military as it has suffered huge losses in both personnels and equipment.

Military locations have been vulnerable, targeting soft targets and each time it happened, the Nigerian Army under Lt Gen Attahiru had risen to the occasion.

However, about 48 hours after it was reported that the notorious Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekaru might have been killed by ISWAP in a supremacy war, which had motivated the military high Command to want to investigate the purported killing, some pundits are insinuating if there might have been a foul play in the crash.

As the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Leo Irabor has given order for the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to investigate the cause(s) of the crash, it remains premature to say what led to the crash apart from what the DDI, Brig Gen Nwachukwu referred to in his statement “inclement weather.”

With the benefit of being a one time Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole until he was relieved in 2017, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru has remained an operational and gallant officer of the Nigerian Army.

Therefore, his death remains a puzzle and difficult to conceptualise considering the vigour and energy he reposed at ensuring the neutralisation of the Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and other organised crimes.

Also, the deployment of about 300 female soldiers in a renewed approach to boost security situation along the Kaduna-Abuja highway where several cases of kidnappings and killings were reported, was a move that has yielded exponential result.

The role of the women soldiers is to compliment the existing operations along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and its environs.

Death, which has remained number one enemy of mankind has truncated every plan the late COAS Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru intended to emplace to ensure adequate welfare provision for the troops that would better motivate them to rout insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other organised crimes in the country. As it is often said: Death, be not proud!!!

BURIAL PROCEEDINGS AT NATIONAL MILITARY CEMETERY

The burial of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Late Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru and six other senior officers who lost their lives in an air mishap in Kaduna on Friday evening would be interred at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja today, 22nd May, 2021 by 1300hrs.

The Director Army Public Relations, Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima on Saturday morning said the burial proceedings would commence at the National Mosque and National Christian Centre, Abuja by 1000hrs respectively.

“Consequently, the interment for the late COAS and six other senior officers will take place at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja today by 1300hrs.

The Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru was killed in a plane crash on Friday evening in Kaduna while on official duty to honour the Passing Out Parade of recruits from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria.

Post Author: Friday Ekeoba