Boko Haram, Air Force differ on missing fighter plane

APRIL 3, 2021

By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja

 

The terror sect, Boko Haram, yesterday claimed responsibility for the fate of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet which went missing on Wednesday.

The sect said it shot down the fighter plane.

With the Boko Haram claim came a seven-minute video footage of the purported shooting down of the plane.

But the Air Force dismissed the claim as fake.

The NAF Director Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the viral video could be clips from a previous incident.

Gabkwet had earlier yesterday named the pilots of the missing plane and said the aircraft might have crashed.

The video released by the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram shows a plane flying low over an area that looked like a battlefield.

It soon comes under rapid fire, including what appears to be an anti-aircraft gun, from Boko Haram fighters.

Within seconds the plane explodes mid-air and begins to tumble down.

The terrorists then swoop on the plane’s wreckage, stealing whatever they can from the plane and its dead pilots.

A masked man mounts the tail of the crashed plane, brandishing his gun.

The fuselage is emblazoned with the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475.

NAF dismisses B’Haram’s video as false

The Nigerian Air Force however dismissed Boko Haram’s claims as false.

The NAF Director Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the viral video could be clips from a previous incident.

The video, according to Gabkwet, is fraught with inconsistencies that show it is fake. He added that the lush vegetation in the video suggests that the incident which Boko Haram was trying to sell did not happen in the Northeast.

His words: “We have seen some videos but there is nothing that has proven that the aircraft in those clips belongs to us.

“Or have you seen a Nigerian Air Force aircraft number or the body of Air Force pilot or have you seen any Air Force uniform?
“Until we get all these details strengthened out, we are not going to go into speculation.
“That video could have been shot somewhere.

“I have seen four videos so far, one of them has lush vegetation in the background, and I wonder where they have such vegetation in the Northeast. Unless they did something and they are releasing the clips bit by bit, we are waiting.

“Except we have evidence, because like I said, these persons have families and you cannot go to their wives, parents or wards, you must bring concrete evidence; there must be something to show.”

Gabkwet had earlier yesterday said that intelligence report gathered by NAF surveillance aircraft, special forces and ground troops indicated that its missing aircraft might have crashed.

But he said the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the two pilots remained unknown.

He gave the names of the pilots as  Flt.-Lt. John Abolarinwa and Flt.- Lt. Ebiakpo Chapele.

He said extensive search-and-rescue efforts were still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and troops on ground.

He, however, remained hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.

The NAF Alpha-Jet aircraft (NAF-475) went off the radar with the two pilots on board on Wednesday.

The aircraft was on a mission to provide support for troops on the ground fighting Boko Haram insurgents.

Another aircraft of the Air Force crashed in February soon after take-off in Abuja, killing all seven persons on board.

SOURCE: THE NATION

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