The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says one of its fighter jet deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast may have crashed noting that the whereabouts of the two pilots (flying officers) on board the jet remain unknown.
The country’s Air Force also released the names of the pilots as Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
Edward Gabkwet, the NAF spokesperson, in a statement on Friday, said extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing.
Mr Gabkwet had on Thursday released a statement stating that the jet lost contact with radar in Borno state on Wednesday evening.
It’s believed the jet was on a mission to provide support for troops on the ground fighting Boko Haram insurgents.
“Intelligence report gathered by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) indicates that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with 2 crew members on board on 31 March 2021 might have crashed,” Mr Gabkwet said in a statement on Friday.
“The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remain unknown. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
“Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground.
“At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.”
Earlier, Oladayo Amao, the chief of air staff, visited the NAF base in Maiduguri to be briefed on the ongoing search and rescue efforts in connection with the jet.
He urged pilots, engineers and technicians to remain undeterred and resolute in their commitment to ensuring that peace returns to the north-east.
If confirmed, this will not be the first time aircrafts of the Nigerian Air Force would be involved in a crash.
In February, an aircraft of the air force crashed at the Abuja airport with all seven personnel on board dead.
The personnel who died were said to be en route to Niger state to rescue students abducted from Government Science College, Kagara.
By Abel Ejikeme.