A military aircraft has crashed in Kaduna, killing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, alongside six military officers and four crew members onboard.
The incident occurred near the Kaduna International Airport at about 6pm on Friday.
Spokesman of the Nigerian Airforce, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet confirmed the crash in a statement on Friday, but did not give details.
“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,”Gabkwet said.
Also in a statement, Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Lucky Irabor has directed that that an Accident Investigation Board be constituted to unravel the immediate and remote cause(s) of the unfortunate accident.
The statement reads: “It is with a heavy heart that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) regrets to announce that this evening at about 1800 Hours, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, in company of his entourage, who were on official trip from Abuja to Kaduna, were involved in an air mishap.
“The unfortunate incident occurred after landing at the Kaduna International Airport due to inclement weather.
“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor has therefore directed that an Accident Investigation Board be constituted to unravel the immediate and remote cause(s) of the unfortunate accident.
“As we pray for the repose of the souls of our gallant and committed Chief of Army Staff and other personnel on board with him, the AFN solicits the support and understanding of all Nigerians in the face of this tragic incident.
“We wish to state that the Armed Forces of Nigeria remains resolute in combatting the security challenges bedeviling our nation. The sacrifices of our dearly departed heroes will not be in vain.
“Meanwhile, the CDS urges all military personnel and their families to take heart and be condoled on this tragic loss. The CDS also reassures all Nigerians of the commitment and loyalty of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the Constitution and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as it continues to carry out its responsibilities.”
Sources said, Attahiru alongside six military officers on his entourage and four crew members perished in the crash.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna state government has expressed shock of the death of the Chief of Army staff in the crash.
In a statement on Friday night, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said Governor Nasir El-Rufai was devastated by news of the incident.
“The Kaduna State Government has received with immense sadness news of the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and other senior military officers in a plane crash which occurred in Kaduna on Friday evening.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufai said that Lt.Gen. Attahiru was a shining star whose sudden death has robbed Nigeria of an officer striving to bring new drive to secure the country against terrorists and other threats to national security.
“The governor said the news of General Attahiru’s death has left him deeply shaken, with a sense of great personal loss, coming so soon after his appointment had brought immense pride and a sense of hope to the people of Kaduna state”, the statement said.
Aruwan said the governor, “on behalf of the government and people of Kaduna State, has extended his condolences to President Muhammadu Buhari, all branches of the military, especially the Nigerian Army, and the family of Gen. Attahiru, as well as the families of all the officers who have lost their lives in this national tragedy.”