The Nigerian Air Force has buried seven personnel who died during the KingAir 350i crash in Abuja.
It was a solemn and emotional outpouring as dignitaries and families paid their last respect to the gallant fallen heroes.
The chief of the air staff Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao who was visibly broken said the service was still in palpabel shock and grieving deeply.
Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama, Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo, Flying Officer Michael Okpara, Warrant Officer Bassey Etim, Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi, Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka, and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson died on Sunday, 21 February 21 in Abuja while on active duty in service to their Fatherland.
“I must confess that, even at this moment, the Nigerian Air Force is still in palpable shock and grieving very deeply upon this loss of our gallant and courageous heroes, in whom we had so much confidence, with our expectations now suddenly and painfully cut short.
“We salute the supreme sacrifice of these young men, whose lot it became to give their lives in the defence of the peace which we all enjoy and often take for granted.
“These intelligent and disciplined young officers and airmen flew their quota of ongoing surveillance missions in the North East, North West and more recently in the North Central over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the staff and students abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.” he said
Amao said the loss should spur others to rededicate themselves to service and relentlessly fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism.
“The loss of these confident, courageous and professional young officers and airmen must spur the rest of us not only to rededicate ourselves to the service of our Nation, but also to resolve that we shall relentlessly expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in our society.
“We must throw everything that we have into this fight, to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain.
The CAS restated the services commitment and unalloyed loyalty to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, as he continues to lead the Nation’s collective effort at tackling the challenges bedevilling the nation.
He said the solemn event, in addition to honouring the sacrifice and memory of fallen comrades, offers all an opportunity for sober reflections as he pray for the eternal repose of the gentle souls of our departed heroes.
He said their death was a huge loss to the Nigerian Air Force Family and indeed the entire Nation,adding that they will be greatly missed but fondly remembered for their invaluable services to the Nation and Humanity.
“Today, as our late colleagues go to their final resting place, may the Lord be with them forever and may they rest assured that the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the Nation will remain ever grateful to them for their service and sacrifice.”
The CAS urged families to be consoled by the knowledge that the entire Nation grieves with them on the loss of these shining, amiable and patriotic Nigerians who have laid down their lives in the service of their Fatherland.
“As Nigerians, we will persevere, taking strength from the shining legacy of service of these young officers and airmen, and those before them. The memory of their service shall forever be blessed, and their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.”
Some of the dignitaries present include: Governor of Ekiti State Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Defence Major Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi, Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Lucky Irabor, Chief of Army Staff Major Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, Minister of Women Affairs Dame Pauline Tallen and others.