President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement on Friday described the air crash that kills Nigeria’s Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, as a “mortal blow at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country.
The Air Force said in a statement that its plane crashed near Kaduna airport and that it was investigating the cause.
“An air crash involving a Nigeria AirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon,” Daily Trust quoted Edward Gabkwet, the air force spokesperson, as saying in a statement.
The crash occurred three months after a small Nigerian air force passenger plane went down just outside Abuja airport following alleged engine failure, killing all seven people on board.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has had poor air safety record in the past, although it has improved in recent years.
Buhari appointed Attahiru alongside other military chiefs in January after years of mounting criticism over spreading violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs.
Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have waged a decade-long insurgency estimated to have displaced about 2 million people and killed more than 30,000. They want to create states based on their extreme interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Until his appointment in January, he was the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.
With service number 8406, he was a member of Regular Course 35 of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
At a time, he was the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole until he was sacked in 2017 for alleged incompetence.
Under his watch, suicide bombings and attacks on military formations were on the rise.
Meanwhile Olusegun Bamgbose, Esq., National Coordinator, Concerned Advocates for Good Governance, CAGG, has described the death of Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru as shocking and suspicious.
According to him, this is one death that must be thoroughly investigated, adding that the sad news will certainly pose a serious setback to the fight against terror in Nigeria.
A military Beachcraft 350 carrying him went down at the Kaduna International Airport on Friday, claiming all passengers.
He was in Kaduna on an official trip.
Speaking with DAILY POST on the development, Bamgbose added, “The just reported death of the Chief of Army Staff this evening is very shocking and almost unbelievable.
“This is most unfortunate and disheartening. His death will certainly pose a serious setback to the fight against terror in Nigeria.
“It’s tantamount to a coup. This is one death that must be thoroughly investigated. His sudden death is highly suspicious.
“Only just recently we heard the news of the death of Abubakar Shekau and the next thing is the death of the Chief of Army Staff.
The security architecture of the nation must be overhauled as this is tantamount to a direct attack on the Presidency. “Nigeria is in danger as this insecurity is taking a dangerous weapon trend.”