The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has declared that an appropriate decision will be taken on the fleet of aircrafts available to the force in view of the crash in Kaduna which killed the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, and other top military chiefs on Friday.
NAF spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet however said the decision won’t be rushed and would only be taken after the results of investigations into the immediate and remote circumstances that led to the crash on Friday and other recent ones are unveiled.
He added that the Air Force is working with the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in determining the right course of action.
He made the submissions while speaking on Sunday during an interview with Punch correspondent.
Naija News recalls the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other top military officers lost their lives on Friday when a Beechcraft KingAir B350i belonging to the Nigerian Air Force crashed near the Kaduna International Airport, killing all on board.
The development has raised concerns about the condition of the aircraft in the NAF fleet with reports having it that the number of military personnel, who died in crashes involving NAF aircraft is now up to 33 in six years.
Also, the Nigerian military lost 11 aircraft to crashes within the same period under review.
Gabkwet however assured that proper investigations are ongoing and Nigerians will be informed on the final decision to be taken after investigations are concluded.
He said, “We want to be as transparent as possible. Nigerians will be fully informed about the outcome of the investigation. We are going to have a joint press conference with the AIB and make sure everybody gets the outcome of this investigation.
“In the meantime, we are not rushing into taking certain decision that would hamper our own operations. Mind you, we still have operations ongoing. We must be careful about the kind of action we take. We should not take our eyes off the ball, we must remain focused in whatever we are doing, not take rash decisions just to please few critics on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. No, we won’t do that.”
The NAF spokesperson explained further that the two Beechcraft aircraft that crashed were different series, and it may be hasty to conclude that the aircraft is faulty.
He said, “You have to understand; a lot of things go into the grounding of an entire fleet of aircraft. One thing that can make us ground them is based on the recommendation of the board (of inquiry). We have been using that (Beechcraft) aircraft for almost 10 years and we have had just two crashes of that aircraft, then we ground it; then, we are not been fair to ourselves. It has been the most reliable transport aircraft we had until this accident.
‘’So, going to ground it is too swift and the Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Air Force are working hand-in-hand to make sure they come out with something all Nigerians will see and that’s why we are involving the AIB in this investigation.”
On the NAF Alpha jet that went missing on March 31, while on a mission against Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State, the NAF spokesman said the craft and crew (two pilots) were yet to be found.
“The pilots have been declared missing in action until we are able to ascertain what happened to that plane and the two officers,’’ he noted.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved Monday, 24th May 2021 as a work free day for members of the Armed Forces as a mark of honour for the late Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru.
The President also directed that the national flag should fly at Half Mast in all public buildings and official residences across the country, from Monday, May 24 to Wednesday, May 26, 2021.
The directives were contained in a statement issued on Sunday night by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.