The Nigerian Air Force has denied reports that there were other personnel onboard the fighter jet which crashed during an operation against bandits in Zamfara on Sunday.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said only Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo was on the mission on Sunday.
Gabwet added that the incident happened around the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states.
He said, “The Alpha jet in question is a two-seater type, but only Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo undertook the mission on that fateful day
Recall that Gbawet had in a statement on Monday confirmed that one of its aircraft crashed in Zamfara State on Sunday.
According to Gabwet, the aircraft came under intense fire from bandits which led to its crash in Zamfara State after a successful operation.
He noted the Dairo was able to elude several bandit strongholds and found his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.
He had said: “On July 18, 2021, around 12.45pm, a Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet aircraft returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states came under intense enemy fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
“Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft. Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset.
“Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and manoeuvred his way to a Nigerian Army unit, where he was finally rescued.”
“Upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, directed that all efforts must be made to rescue the pilot.
“The NAF intelligence surveillance reconnaissance platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops, who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
“It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits, who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.”