Findings by Satur-day Vanguard has revealed that the two Nigeria Air Force jets that crashed yesterday in Abuja were among the three earlier seen rehearsing for next Monday’s Independence Day anniversary.
The jets were gathered to have collided on air while rehearsing. One pilot was confirmed dead while another was seriously injured as a result of the malfunctioning of a parachute he activated to land on the ground. The Nigerian Air Force, in a statement by its spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, did not disclose the identity of the deceased. The statement reads: “It is with a heavy heart that I regretfully announce that one of the pilots who successfully ejected from one of the F-7Ni aircraft that crashed earlier today has passed on. Additional details on the incident will be communicated later.”
The statement was a follow-up to an earlier one released by Daramola, which had claimed that no life was lost in the incident. An eyewitness, who pleaded anonymity told Saturday Vanguard that the two jets dangled in the air for about three minutes before falling down. He said the pilots were seen ejecting, adding that one died on landing on a rock while another, who landed on the ground was unable to sit up. According to him, the parachute of the dead pilot malfunctioned causing him to land with force on a rock while the other pilot with severe injury found it difficult to activate his. He said the security agencies drafted to the scene shortly after the incident attempted to arrest people, who had earlier rushed to the scene to rescue the victims.
He said: “I was one of the few persons, who witnessed everything that happened. As they were displaying, we saw that the two smaller jets flying in between a bigger one collided and started dangling in the air. Suddenly, we saw three pilots coming down on parachutes. But while one had no problem, one was seen struggling to activate his own properly while the third one malfunctioned. He landed with force on the ground and died there immediately. “He was not able to lose the parachute. We saw it clearly that somebody died there. They drove us out and they were even trying to arrest us with their guns. We told them that we were the first rescuers that came here. “They just came with their guns as if we are Boko Haram insurgents. Since two weeks they have been disturbing this neighbourhood.’’