A military plane crashed in Kaduna State on Friday with the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, along with several other officers, on board.
The Nigerian Air Force confirmed the incident via a statement issued shortly after the crash, but did not reveal the identities of the affected military personnel.
But several media reports said Lieutenant General Attahiru, who was appointed Chief of Staff on January 26, and 10 others, including six military officers and four crew members, died in the crash.
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed “shock and sorrow” over the deaths.
Air Force spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet, said the incident occurred near the Kaduna International Airport.
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.
Director of Public Relations and Information
— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) May 21, 2021
“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 said.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 6 pm while it was raining heavily.
The officers apparently were on their way to Kaduna State ahead of tomorrow’s passing out parade of soldiers from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria.
The aircraft, with registration number, 5N-R203 was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in Mando area, before it diverted and attempted to land at the Kaduna airport.
The Air Force has been involved in a couple of tragedies this year.
An Air Force jet supporting ground troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists went missing in north-east Borno in March.
In February, seven officials died after a military plane crashed in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The 21st COAS
General Attahiru was born on August 10, 1966 and joined the military in 1984.
He rose through the rank to become the 21st Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army.
Before his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff, he had commanded Operation Lafiya Dole between May 2017 to December 2017.
He was a graduate of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji and Nigerian Army School of Infantry.
He commenced cadet training in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer.
He held a Masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Others honours he acquired include a Masters of Science in Human Resources Management and Development from Salford University in the United Kingdom and Graduate Diploma in International Studies from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.
‘The Ultimate Price’
In a statement signed by spokesman Femi Adesina, the President expressed sadness and sorrow over the deaths late Friday.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened over the air crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers,” the statement said.
President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply saddened over the air crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers. pic.twitter.com/0DtDd9YY0D
— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) May 21, 2021
President Buhari described the military officers as “heroes who paid the ultimate price for peace and security in the land.”
He also noted that the crash “is one mortal blow to our underbelly, at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country.”
President Buhari, according to the statement, pledged that the departed would not die in vain.