As Nigerians continue to mourn the shocking death of Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the nation’s Chief of Army Staff, there seems to be a growing concern over fears that the Nigeria Air Force Beachcraft 350i that crashed at the Kaduna International Airport, causing the death of the CAOS and 10 others was actually sabotaged.
DAILY POST reported that the aircraft crashed at the Kaduna airport on Friday evening, killing everyone on board.
The crash was the third this year involving military planes, after another Beachcraft aircraft crashed at the Abuja airport in February this year and another Alpha jet, involved in the fight against insurgency in the North-East, was declared crashed.
Of all the crashes, Friday’s seem to be more shocking, leading to curious questions on the initial reason given for the unfortunate incident.
It will be recalled that the Defence Headquarters in a statement on Friday night declared that the crash of the aircraft carrying the COAS and others was caused by bad weather.
The statement signed by Brig.Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, Acting Director Defence Information, read in part: “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 combating the security challenges bedeviling our nation. The sacrifices of our dearly departed heroes will not be in vain.”
The statement by the Defence Headquarters, though in one breath seemed to have been conclusive about the cause of the crash, yet gave the DHQ out as not knowing what actually happened, as it said the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor has ordered the constitution of an Accident Investigation Board to prove the immediate and remote cause(s) of the crash.
For many, who are still in shock over the crash and the manner in which it happened, bad or inclement weather, as the DHQ, puts it may not be enough to have the aircraft burn the way it did.
The aircraft, as reported by many media outlets, quoting residents of the Kaduna Airport quarters and its environs, was already burning before it hit the ground. This has led to many suspecting some foul play.
The factional Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, in a statement on Saturday while reacting to the crash and the death of the COAS and others, called for a thorough investigation into the crash, saying it suspects foul play.
The group, which asked President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo and other notable Nigerians to avoid flying private jet until the outcome of a thorough investigation into the crash, said the Friday crash was ‘suspicious’ and had signs of a ‘possible Sabotage’.
The statement issued by its Secretary General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, read in part: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide consoles with President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerian Army over the demise of Lt- General Ibrahim Attahiru and ten others in the air force plane crash in Kaduna on Friday 21/5/21. This is perceived as a result of sabotage that should be investigated and the late Army chief with others had paid the Supreme prices for peace to return to Northern Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze queries if the era of plane crashes as phenomenal occurrences for supreme prizes for patriotic Nigerians had returned?
“President Buhari, V.P Osibanjo and others should avoid flying Private Jets until the investigations of the NAF ill fated flight that crashed at kaduna are concluded and made open to Nigerians.”
Several other Nigerians, harbouring similar suspicions have also expressed their doubts about the cause of the crash, insisting on thorough investigation to ascertain the truth.
@MrKlassiq, writing on Twitter wondered how an aircraft carrying the COAS will just crash like that. “Why will an aircraft carrying the chief of army staff of a country like Nigeria crash in this trying security time? We need answers please. It should be investigated ….”
For @ISellLands, Attahiru’s death is a clear case of set up. “Attahiru is a good Man & I strongly believe his death is a Set Up. Why will a VIP plane Crash? We all watched Hollywood movies & it’s like, we all know how good people got treated by biased government personnel. We ain’t daft in this.His death needs a proper investigation” while @Ahmad Jibrin, said the way the COAS died is the reason he cannot take up government appointment.
“I pray that the Almighty Allah forgive his shortcomings, I’m afraid to take any position in this country. It’s not possible for a person who stands by truth”, he wrote.
A Lagos based security expert, who works with one of the multinationals in the country but does not want his name mentioned because of the sensitivity of the subject, believes that there was a foul play involved in Friday’s crash.
According to him, it is impossible for bad or inclement weather to cause a crash and have the aircraft burn the way it did.
“There is something fishy in the entire incident; something is not just right with what has happened with Lt. Ibrahim Atahiru. I am not convinced that bad weather could have caused the crash, neither can I be convinced that there is no foul play at work.
“I do not want to join the military authorities to sell the story of bad weather; in fact their conclusion and provision of the cause of the crash was rather hasty and suspicious. I never expected that the Defence Headquarters will be that naive and amateurish in talking about the cause of the crash, the same night it occured, without even a simple preliminary investigation. It would have been enough to inform Nigerians that an investigation has been ordered which is expected anyway.
“While I may not readily buy in to some of the conspiracy theories flying about, I am inclined towards a full scale independent investigation into the crash. An investigation that should ideally involve accident investigators from outside the country so as to assure Nigerians that nothing will be hidden. This is needed, not just because of the ordinary people on the streets, who are very curious at the moment, but for our armed forces. Our soldiers must be assured that nothing fishy happened and that even as they daily risk their lives in the defence of the country, they are not exposed to sabotage.
“The Nigerian Government must take concrete steps toward confidence building in the armed forces and that can only start with unravelling the real cause of that crash. Too many have happened and nothing is been done to allay fears. The young female pilot, Arotile, was suspected to have been taken out, but not much was done by government to dispel the rumour. Two other Nigerian Air Force aircrafts have also crashed before Friday’s own; what has been done in the way of investigation? What the government should understand is that when air mishaps are investigated and reports released, it is not just to apportion blames, but also to ensure that similar situations are avoided in future. It helps to enhance safety standards and procedures. So, things have to be done differently this time around,”.the security expert said.
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