The remains of the seven Nigeria Air Force (NAF) airmen who died in a plane crash near Abuja airport on Sunday have been buried.
They were, according to the military, on a mission to rescue the recently kidnapped Kagara students in Niger State when tragedy struck.
The deceased were laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja on Thursday.
Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama, the NAF officer that piloted the aircraft, is being hailed as a hero for steering the Beechraft KingAir BB305i away from residential buildings before it crashed near the runaway at Abuja airport.
The other victims of the crash were Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot), Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist) and Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist), and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
Their bodies were lowered into the grave at exactly 1pm and accorded full military honours and the traditional 21 gunshots salute.
An emotional Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, said “the loss of these confident, courageous and professional young officers and airmen must spur the rest of us not only to rededicate ourselves to the service of our Nation, but also to resolve that we shall relentlessly expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in our society”.
“We must throw everything that we have into this fight, to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain.
“We salute the supreme sacrifice of these young men, whose lot it became to give their lives in the defence of the peace which we all enjoy and often take for granted.
“These intelligent and disciplined young officers and 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 concerted efforts to secure the release of the staff and students abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.
“In addition to honouring the sacrifice and memory of our fallen comrades, offers us all an opportunity for sober reflections as we pray for the eternal repose of the gentle souls of our departed heroes.
“Their death is a huge loss to the Nigerian Air Force Family and indeed the entire Nation. They will be greatly missed but fondly remembered for their invaluable services to the Nation and Humanity.
“Today, as our late colleagues go to their final resting place, may the Lord be with them forever and may they rest assured that the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the Nation will remain ever grateful to them for their service and sacrifice.
“To the families of our deceased brothers, our prayers are with you at this time, as also those of people from everywhere, both within and outside the country.
“The overwhelming show of love, solidarity and support from everyone is a clear indication that the Nation, and indeed the entire Globe, shares in this grief with you.
He said NAF would work hard to expose those behind Boko Haram terrorism and banditry in the country.