Published February 26, 2021
Adelani Adepegba , Abuja
THE remains of the seven Nigerian Air Force officers, who died in Sunday ’s plane crash, were committed to mother earth at the National Cemetery, Lugbe , Airport Road , Abuja, on Thursday .
The personnel died in the Beechcraft King Air B 350 i aircraft, which crashed a short distance from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja , after reporting engine failure.
The deceased are the Captain , Fl. Lt . Haruna Gadzama ; Fl . Lt. Henry Piyo ( co – pilot ); Flying Officer Michael Okpara ( Airborne Tactical Observation System specialist ); Warrant Officer Bassey Etim ( ATOS specialist ); Fl . Sgt . Olasunkanmi Olawunmi ( ATOS specialist ); Sgt . Ugochukwu Oluka ( ATOS specialist ); and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson ( onboard technician ) .
At the funeral service were the Ekiti State Governor , Dr Kayode Fayemi ; Minister of Defence , Maj . Gen . Salihi Magashi ( retd. ); the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj . Gen Lucky Irabor; the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Amao , and the family members of the deceased as well as members of the National Assembly.
The CAS , who got emotional and broke down several times during his address , described the deceased as some of the finest officers in the service and prayed God to console their immediate families .
He said, “ I must confess that even at this moment , the Nigerian Air Force is still in palpable shock and grieving very deeply upon this loss of our gallant and courageous heroes, in whom we had so much confidence , with our expectations now suddenly and painfully cut short .”
Amao saluted the supreme sacrifice of the young men , whom he said gave their lives in the defence of the peace “ which we all enjoy and often take for granted . ”
He explained that the airmen flew their quota of ongoing surveillance missions in the North -East , North – West and more recently in the North – Central over Niger State and its environs in connection with the efforts to secure the release of the staff and students abducted from the Government Science College , Kagara , Niger State.
Olawunmi was recalled from leave – Sister
Mrs Sola Oluwasola, the elder sister of airman Olawunmi, said the deceased was on leave when he was recalled by his superiors for an operation .
She said the victim left behind three children , including a one -year – old son .
According to Oluwasola, the deceased had been taking care of the entire family members , particularly their aged mother .
She recalled that only two persons were shortlisted by the Nigerian Air Force in the entire Ekiti State when Olawunmi joined the military in 2001 .