JAMA’ATU Ahlussunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, a faction of the Boko Haram terrorist group led by Abubakar Shekau, has claimed responsibility for downing of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha fighter jet, which crashed on Thursday evening in Konduga Local Council of Borno State.
The jet marked NAF 475, crashed 30 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital, with two pilots, Flight Lieutenants John Abolarinwa and Ebiakpo Chapele.
While claiming responsibility for the crash, the terrorist group, yesterday, released a footage published by HumAngle, showing its members shooting down the aircraft. In the video, the group also showed fighters carrying an RPG and artillery equipment, as well as a body and the aircraft’s debris.
But in a swift reaction, Director of Public Relations of NAF, Commodore Edward Gabkwet said the viral video could be clips from a previous incident, insisting that the video is fraught with inconsistencies, which established that it was fake, adding that the lush vegetation in one of the clips suggest that it was not in the Northeast.
According to the NAF spokesperson: “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 NAF aircraft number or the body of pilot or any NAF uniform? Until we get all these details strengthen 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,” he insists.
However, the cause of crash and whereabouts of the pilots, according to Director of Public Relations of NAF, remained unknown as at yesterday.
Earlier yesterday, Gabkwet said NAF intelligence report indicated that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475), which went off radar with two crewmembers, could have crashed on the fringe of Sambisa Forest.
According to him, NAF was not ruling out anything regarding the incident of crash and missing crewmembers. He said extensive search and rescue efforts were still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft, Special Forces and ground troops of the Nigerian Army.
“At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding Thursday’s incident,” he noted, adding that it remained hopeful that the pilots would soon be identified for rescue.” It would be recalled that in February, a NAF aircraft crashed at the Abuja airport, with all seven personnel on board dead.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to ensure that Nigerians enjoy crime free Easter celebrations, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammed A. Adamu, has ordered an intensive round-the-clock security of all public spaces and critical national assets.
The order was contained in his Easter message to Nigerians issued yesterday by the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba.
The statement specifically directed all state Commissioners of Police and their supervising Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) to ensure adequate deployment of police personnel, both covert and overt operatives, and other operational assets, to areas of security interest within their respective areas of responsibility.
“They are also to ensure confidence boosting, and that proactive and high visibility patrols are carried out along the highways, motor parks, train stations, airports, worship centres, banks and other financial institutions.
He added that they should take adequate measures to provide a peaceful, crime-free and enabling environment for religious, cultural and other socio-economic activities to thrive.
“In addition, the Commissioner of Police and their supervising AIGs have been directed to ensure proper supervision of the men assigned for these assignments.
“They must be professional and courteous to law-abiding citizens but firm and ruthless to criminals.
“To this effect, the IGP Monitoring Unit and X-Squad have been given marching orders to monitor and police activities of police officers policing the highways to ensure respect for the rights of citizens and operational conformity with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Rules of Engagement (RoE) of the Force.”
He felicitated with Nigerians, particularly the Christian community, on the commemoration of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The IGP expressed appreciation to the citizenry for their support and called on them to continue to cooperate with the Nigeria Police and other security agencies by providing timely information that would help in the prevention and detection of crime. He assured Nigerians that the Nigeria Police would continue to do all within its powers to provide safety and security to the teeming Nigerian population.