- * Nigerian Airforce, NAIB, US NTSB, Commences Investigations
- *IPAC Mourns, Shocked, Devastated
It was a tragic Sunday, as a military Aircraft (a Beechcraft King Air 350i) reportedly lost control and crashed beside the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja this Sunday afternoon.
The cause of the crash was fully unknown, but it was said to be an engine failure, as the the aircraft was enroute Minna, Niger state. It had seven passengers on board. Authorities of the Nigerian Airforce have been in deep shock since the incident occurred hours ago.
Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, confirmed the incident in his official twitter handle. He tweeted that: “A military aircraft, King Air 350, has just crashed short of our Abuja runway after reporting engine failure on its return journey to Abuja from Minna, Niger state capital, North Central Nigeria.
It appears to be fatal. “We should remain calm & wait for the outcome of investigation by the military, while we pray for the departed soul/souls if any.”
Eyewitnesses however confirmed to Nigerian NewsLeader Newspaper that all the seven passengers aboard the Aircraft were burnt beyond recognition in the inferno that arose from the scene of the crashed plane. Some military and airport officials were seen rummaging through the charred remnants of the plane fuselage as fire engines and ambulances stood by.
There was intense smell of burning chemicals engulfing the air around the entire airport area. Curious sympathizers swarmed the scene of the crash to watch and lend a helping hand in the rescue operation ongoing.
An eyewitness who gave her name as Alaba Lawal, offered that: "As he (the plane's pilot) was going down, he struggled to go back to the airport, at the end he just crashed. I just saw the whole thing explode, fire and smoke together ... When I got there, I saw dead bodies on the ground", she revealed.
As at press time, the authorities of the Nigerian Airforce were yet to disclose the identities of victims who perished in the crash.
However, according to the Spokesman of the Nigerian Airforce, Ibikunle Daramola, he said the Chief of Air of Staff has ordered a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash of the small Beechcraft plane.
President Muhammadu Buhari has already commiserated with the Nigerian Airforce and the families of the victims of the crash. In a statement from the presidency, Buhari said that he was "deeply saddened by the fatal crash".
The crashed Beechcraft King Air 350i is a twin-propeller aircraft manufactured by Textron Aviation, a unit of the U.S.-based Textron Inc conglomerate. The model was first released around 2009. The plane manufacturers, in a statement, said it had been notified of the accident, which it said is being investigated by Nigeria's Aircraft Investigation Bureau and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
"As a party to the investigation, the company is prohibited by NTSB regulation from divulging any information about the accident or investigation," the company said.
NAF PLANE CRASH: WE ARE SHOCKED, DEVASTATED - IPAC
Meanwhile, an umbrella body of the registered Nigerian Political parties, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), said it is "shocked and devastated over the deaths of seven officers of the Nigerian Air Force on board Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft which crashed in Abuja on Sunday, 21st February 2021.
In a statement issued shortly after the crash by the IPAC's National Publicity Secretary, Ambassador Agbo Major, IPAC said that "It is indeed painful for our dear nation to have lost these fine, young, vibrant and well trained officers at a time their services are most needed in dealing with the multiple security challenges bedeviling us. We pray that God in His infinite mercy would grant their souls eternal rest and console members of their immediate families particularly and the Nigerian Air Force generally.
"IPAC mourns our fallen heroes who died in the line of duty and urges the military authorities to thoroughly investigate the immediate and remote causes of this tragedy to avert a recurrence.
"As the might and strength of the nation, we urge our gallant military personnel to remain steadfast and dedicate themselves in the critical task of defending the nation's territorial integrity and crush terrorism, insurgency, militancy, banditry and kidnapping which have claimed thousands of lives and billions of naira worth of property destroyed while hundreds of thousands of fellow compatriots are displaced. Your patriotic service to the fatherland will remain indelible in the hearts of the citizenry", IPAC stated. NNL.