BREAKING:Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, others die in plane crash

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The Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru and ten military personnel died in an ill-fated Nigerian Air Forces plane which crashed near Kaduna International Airport on Friday killing all of its occupants.

The occupants were (1) Lt Gen I Attahiru- COAS, (2) Brig Gen MI Abdulkadir-PGSO, (3) Brig. Gen. Olayinka –Provost, (4) Brig. Gen. Kuliya. – DMI, (5) Maj. LA Hayat, (6) Maj. Hamza, (7) Sgt. Umar.

The crew included (8) FLT Lt T O Asaniyi, (9) FLT LT AA Olufade, (10) Sgt Adesina and (11) ACM Oyedepo.

The Nigerian Air Force in a tweet confirmed that there was an air crashed involving its aircraft, but was silent on the names of the occupant of the ill-fated plane and the number of casualties as well as survivors.

But the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet, in a tweet said: “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”.

Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria, Akin Olateru, confirmed that the souls onboard the plane died.

“Beachcraft 350. 8 souls on board. Unfortunately all dead,” Olateru wrote in a WhatsApp post.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has announced the death of its Chief, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others, in an ill-fated NAF aircraft near Kaduna International Airport on Friday.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, who did not disclose the names of the other victims, said the plane was en route Abuja-Kaduna before the crash.

“The Nigerian Army regrets to announce the passing away of its Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.

“The sad event occurred following an air crash in Kaduna which also claimed the lives of 10 other officers including the crew.

“The COAS was enroute Kaduna from Abuja on May 21, when the unfortunate incident happened.

“Details of the sad incident and burial arrangements will be communicated soon,” he said.

Born on 10th August 1966 in Doka, Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Gen. Attahiru began his cadets training at Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in January 1984 and was commissioned into the rank of Second Lieutenant in December 1986 as an Infantry Officer.

He holds a masters degree in Strategic Management and Policy Studies from the NDA/and has held several appointments on the staff, instructional and in command during his military career.

He had a tour of duty with the United Nations in Sierra Leone as a Military Observer, where he facilitated United Kingdom military engagement, Operation BARASS in September 2000.

He was an Operation Officer and later Company Commander in NIBATT 19 ECOMOG Operations in Liberia.

Also, he had the unique privilege of having commanded with distinction all through the chain of command in the Nigerian Army.

Prominent among these appointments are Commanding Officer 146 Battalion Nigerian Army (Operation HARMONY IV) in the Bakassi Peninsula, Commander 13 Brigade Nigerian Army (Operation PULO SHIELD), General Officer Commanding 82 Division Nigerian Army.

He was one time Theatre Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE.

Attahiru has been exposed to leadership and professional development programmes at globally renowned institutions.

He was at the National Defence College, Kenya for the National Defence Management and Security Studies Course and at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Special Forces Academy Shijiazhuang-Hubei Province, China for the Basic and Advanced Special/Operations Commando Forces Courses.

He had undertaken leadership and security policy course at the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University USA, Graduate School of Media and Communication, Agha Khan University of Nairobi, Bournemouth University Disaster Management Center and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
The general had several honours and awards to his credit.

He is a highly decorated officer with UNAMSIL Medal, ECOMOG Medal, Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguish Service Star, Grand Service Star, Corp Medal of Honour, Command medal, Field Command Medal and Field Command Medal of Honour.

However, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, has called for an investigation into the air crash that claimed the lives of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 others on Friday.

He said that the Accident Investigation Board is expected to unravel the immediate and remote cause(s) of the unfortunate air accident.

The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Nwachukwu said that the unfortunate incident occurred after landing at the Kaduna International Airport due to inclement weather.

“The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) 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,” he said.

Irabor, however, urged all military personnel and their families to take heart and be condoled on the tragic loss.

He also reassured all Nigerians of the commitment and loyalty of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to the Constitution and Government in the discharge of its responsibilities.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the air crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and other military officers.

In a condolence message by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday, the president condoled with families of the deceased, the military, and Nigerians in general.

He described them as “heroes who paid the ultimate price for peace and security in the land.”

While praying that God receives the souls of the patriots, the president said 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.”

He pledged that the departed would not die in vain.

Also on Friday, President Buhari received briefing from Minister of Defence, retired Maj. – Gen. Bashir Magashi, on the plane crash that claimed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. LEO Irabor, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Isiaka Amao and other senior officers.

Mr Sunday Aghaeze, Personal Photographer to the President (Presidency), confirmed this in pictorial reports on Friday evening in Abuja.

NAN, however, gathered that the minister and the service chiefs also used the opportunity to condole with the president over the demise of Attahiru and other military officers, who were killed in the Airforce plane crash in Kaduna.

Chairman Senate committee on Airforce, Sen Bala Ibn Na’Allah, while reacting to the plane crash said: “I received with shock the incident involving the crash of the Nigerian Airforce Kingair 350 in which the Chief of Army Staff was traveling.

“While it’s saddening and unfortunate, I am greatly diminished by the sad news of the death of a perfect gentleman in name of Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and other officers who paid the supreme price in the service of our great country.

“I on behalf of the Senate committee on Airforce convey our heartfelt condolence to the nation, the Nigerian Army and the immediate family of the deceased.

“May Allah in his infinite mercy grant them Aljanna fidausi.”

The Northern Governors Forum in their reaction expressed deep shock over the death of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, in an air crash in Kaduna.

The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau, Mr Simon Lalong in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Macham on Friday in Jos, expressed sadness over the incident.

The chairman said the forum was distressed over the death of Attahiru and his team, who died in the cause of advancing the security and peace of the country.

“Today is another sad day in the history of the nation, as it has lost patriotic Nigerians who gave their lives to the defence of the territorial integrity of the country, and also ensuring that its citizens live in peace and security.

“Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru was a committed soldier whose passion for defending Nigeria was very clear throughout his military career even before his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff.

“Since his appointment, we have engaged him as Northern Governors Forum and individually as Governors, towards enhancing the security and safety of our states, region and the nation at large.

“Within the few months he held sway, we have seen improvements and high resolve to bringing an end to insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities.

“We had been working on consolidating this before this tragic incident that took his life and that of others working with him. We are highly shocked and pained”.

The governor while condoling with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army, families of the deceased, as well as the entire Nigerian Armed Forces said the incident was deeply regrettable.

He said the situation should not deter the Armed Forces from giving their best in the service of the nation, just as the deceased COAS, officers and men did before their tragic death.

He prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest and comfort their families.

The Speaker of Kaduna State House of Assembly/Chairman Northern Speakers Forum, Rt. Honourable Yusuf Zailani, has also expressed shock over the death of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, on Friday May 21, 2021 from a plane crash in Kaduna.

Zailani in a statement signed by his SA Media and Publicity, Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, said his demise is a huge loss to Nigeria.

“The unfortunate plane crash that killed the Chief of Army Staff alongside his aides is tragic and had thrown Nigeria into mourning,” he said.

Rt. Honourable Zailani said that besides being the Chief of Army Staff, he was a proud citizen of Kaduna State where he was born and grew up, making the loss even more painful to the government and people of the state.

The Speaker condoled President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Nigerian Army and his family.

He charged them to take solace in the fact that he died while serving Nigeria patriotically.

“I pray for the repose of his soul and those that died with him. May Almighty Allah Grant them Aljannah Firdaus,” he prayed.

Reacting, the All Progressives Congress (APC) expressed deep shock over the report of a fatal air crash of a Nigerian Air Force plane conveying the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru and other military personnel on Friday, May 21, 2021, near the Kaduna International Airport.

A statement by the Secretary, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, James Akpanudoedehe, on Friday, said while the air crash is being investigated and reports on its cause sketchy, “the APC commiserates with President Muhammadu Buhari, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Nigerian Military and the families of the deceased for the tragic loss of the officers who have gallantly served the nation with honour and dignity.”

LT. Gen. Attahiru was appointed Chief of Army Staff on January 26, 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, with Army Number 8406, was born on August 10, 1966.

He hailed from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State and a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.

He was a former General Officer Commanding of 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.

He was also a former Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole. He took over from General Leo Irabor as Commander.

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