Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, has died in a plane crash in Kaduna on Friday, alongside his wife and 10 others.
A source had earlier informed CHECKPOINTCHARLEY that a military plane crashed at the Kaduna international airport.
It was a military Beachcraft 350 aircraft, the source said, with 12 people on board, including top military officers and crew members.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 6 pm local time amid heavy rain.
The plane was said to have crash-landed on the runway, with no survivors.
The aircraft, with registration number 5N-R203, was billed to land at the Nigerian Airforce Base in the Mando area of Kaduna before it diverted due to treacherous weather and attempted to land at the Kaduna International Airport.
The officers were reportedly on their way to Kaduna ahead of Saturday’s passing-out parade of soldiers from the Nigerian Army Depot in Zaria. The chief of army staff was supposed to be the guest of honour. He was once an nstructor at the same school.
Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigeria, Akin Olateru, first confirmed on Friday evening only eight people onboard died.
He did not give details, but it is being feared that the chief of army staff, Ibrahim Attahiru, who was on board, also died. He was said to be on official trip to Kaduna.
“Beachcraft 350. 8 souls on board. Unfortunately all dead,” Olateru wrote in a WhatsApp note.
The Nigerian Air Force also confirmed the incident later in a statement issued.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the incident occurred near the Kaduna International Airport.
“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,” he said.
However, the Nigerian Army later on Friday night confirmed Attahiru’s death. In a statement by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, the army also confirmed that the unfortunate incident also killed 10 others without revealing their identities.
The statement read, “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 Friday, May 21, 2021 when the unfortunate incident happened. Details of the sad incident and burial arrangements will be communicated soon.”
Mr Attahiru was recently appointment the Chief of Army Staff by President Muhammadu Buhari.
His appointment had shocked many Nigerians, due to the fact he was sacked in 2017 as the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole in the Northeast for alleged incompetence.
Until his appointment in January, he was the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.
Born on August 10, 1966, Attahiru hailed from Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. He was a member of the Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Friday’s NAF plane crash in Kaduna brings to 17 the number of military officers who have died in the last three months in three crashes involving NAF jets.
It happened roughly seven weeks after a NAF Alpha jet went missing on March 31.
The NAF alpha jet was said to be carrying out a mission against Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State when it went missing at about 6pm.
The plane, with two crew members on board, disappeared from the radar and had not been found till date. The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the pilots also are yet to be known.
Though Boko Haram sect had posted footage of burning wreckage of a plane, claiming that its fighters shot down the aircraft. This was however denied by the Nigerian Airforce.
Similarly, on February 21, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i NAF aircraft also crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport after reporting engine failure on the way to Minna.
Seven crew members on board that jet died. The NAF is yet to make public the investigation about the crash.