Rescued NAF pilot returns to rousing welcome after bandits’ attack on jet
Solomon Odeniyi and Godwin Isenyo
20 July 2021
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Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo (left) locked in a warm embrace with Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao (middle); while Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor (right) and other military personnel watch on at NAF Base in Kaduna on Monday
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said the Nigerian Air Force jet that crashed on Sunday was brought down by bandits.
Irabor disclosed this in an interactive session with retired senior military officers from the North-West geopolitical zone of the country held at the One Division’s officers’ mess in Kaduna on Monday.
According to him, there was a serious search by the armed forces to locate the plane and the pilot.
“I met the pilot this morning, we interacted and he is fine. The pilot is in Kaduna. With the experience he has, he was able to find his way out of the danger zone safely,” the CDS stated.
The NAF also on Monday confirmed that one of its aircraft crashed in Zamfara State on Sunday.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the incident happened around the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states.
He said the aircraft came under intense fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara State after a successful operation.
According to him the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, was able to elude several bandit strongholds and found his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.
The statement was titled, ‘Alpha jet aircraft crashes in Zamfara, pilot rescued’.
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It read, “On July 18, 2021, around 12.45pm, a Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet aircraft returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states came under intense enemy fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
“Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft. Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset.
“Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and manoeuvred his way to a Nigerian Army unit, where he was finally rescued.”
According to the statement, upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, directed that all efforts must be made to rescue the pilot.
It said the NAF intelligence surveillance reconnaissance platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops, who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
“It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits, who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location,” the statement added