The Flying Coffins of Nigeria Armed Forces, Which Way Forward?
By Moses Idika
All over the world, the Air Force is the power base of the military, modern warfare is fought in the air, the land forces merely “clear the debris.”
The ongoing Israel and Palestine Conflict is a testimony of what modern warfare looks like. Israeli military has recorded very huge and significant “victory” over Hamas terrorist group without deploying soldiers on foot into the Palestine territory simply because of strong Air Force backed by equally strong land troops and especially advanced technology.
In Nigeria, however, our Air Force is the weakest link of the armed forces.
It is unexplainable that within three months the Nigeria Air Force has lost three of its planes. More confounding is the fact that Nigerian authorities are clueless as to why the situation persists.
Nigeria government in the last six years has been in frenzy with regards to “acquiring” new technologies and especially aircrafts for the country, yet we keep losing precious airmen as if it was normal.
Taking stock of the last three air disasters involving Nigeria Military carriers reveals an unfortunate pattern enmeshed in an unfeeling corrupt cabal within a government that obvious gives no hoot if all the plane in its fleet crashes provided the Presidential Jet in unaffected.
On Friday night, the nation’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other military personnel perished at the Kaduna International Airport in an air crash involving a NAF Beachcraft 350 aircraft which burst into flames after it crash landed just few metres to the runaway.
According to the Spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force, the “air crash involving a Nigerian Air Force aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon,” the same story that has always been told each time the recurrent decimal takes place.
The latest crash is the third in the unfortunate series of crashes involving NAF planes with no convincing explanation as to what happened and how future crashes could be avoided.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021, another NAF Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crash landed just before the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja killing all seven NAF personnel onboard. The crew of the ill-fated plane was said to had earlier reported engine failure.
In yet another unfortunate and perhaps the most painful accident involving NAF aircraft, on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, an Alpha-Jet aircraft that was in the battlefront in the endless war against Boko Haram terrorists and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) was lost and till today nothing has been heard about what happened to that jet or its crew.
While the insurgents claimed responsibility for downing the fighter jet, the Nigerian military denied the “shutdown” story, but has been unable to give a credible alternative explanation to what happened to aircraft or its tow pilots.
Just within three months a total of 20 Nigeria military personnel have lost their lives to air accidents that cannot be explained.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on two occasions escaped death by whiskers when his chopper went down. First in June 2017 when the presidential chopper crashed after take-off in Gwagwalada town in the FCT and on February 2019 when the VP’s chopper once again went down in Kabba, a sleepy town in Kogi State. The VP is the real cat with nine lives obviously.
The above sad fortune of the Nigeria armed forces has led to questions being asked about the safety of military aviation in the country, as civil aviation has recorded no crash involving commercial flights in about a decade now, thankfully.
What could be responsible?
On Wednesday August 30, 2017, the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) released its report on the Nigeria Police Helicopter that crashed in a village near Jos, Plateau State that killed the then newly promoted Deputy Inspector General of Police, Haruna John and three other police personnel including the pilot of the chopper.
The report of the AIB was startling as it was revealing. That report gave insight into what may be happening to the Nigeria military as far as the recurring air crashes involving its aircrafts is concerned.
According to the details of the AIB’s report presented by its Commissioner, Akin Olateru at the bureau’s headquarters at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the two pilots, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Garba Yelwa and Alexander Pwol-ja (co-pilot) that were in charge of the helicopter had no business flying the chopper as at the time it crashed.
Both pilots were not qualified to man the aircraft; they had no adequate training on the aircraft in line with global aviation rules.
According to the AIB report, Yelwa’s medical certificate and simulator recurrency had expired at the time of the crash, while the co-pilot was not equally type-rated on the helicopter brand, meaning that he did not have the proper certification to pilot the helicopter. It beats all imaginations that the Nigeria armed forces put two of its personnel with no adequate training or know-how of a plane on the cockpit, more so as the bird was to ferry one of its most senior officers.
Also, the report revealed that the engineer that released the helicopter prior to the flight was similarly unqualified!
The report revealed that the engineer did not have the necessary type-training and type-rating for the aircraft type he released to embark on the journey that eventually claimed the lives of the DIG, his orderly and the two unqualified flight crew. Imagine calling a radio technician to fix your car.
Nine years after that watershed AIB report, military aviation in Nigeria seem to have taken a deeper dip into chaos.
Despite the fact that the AIB, in its safety recommendations, called on the Nigeria Police Force, and by extension the military to provide the proper funding, to carter for proper training of its personnel and to provide a conducive working environment, and develop and implement a robust training program for its technical and operational personnel with adequate supervision and approved equipment to enhance safety, the question remains which part of that report was not clear to the authorities or have been implemented by our armed forces?
From all indications, the situation has obviously worsened. If not why would the Nigeria military lose 20 of its bright stars within a space of three months in air crashes and nobody is taking responsibility?
It is only in Nigeria that military and police vehicles breakdown on the roads with reckless abandon!
They have started treating our military aircrafts like patrol vans.
I can imagine the people in charge of maintenance of these aircrafts wondering while the government will be “spending such huge amounts of dollars to carry out routine maintenance on a plane that is not broken down.”
While Nigeria top military brass and the police high command build mansions in choice areas across the capitals of Nigeria, buying palatial villas in Dubai and London, the work tools of our armed forces become decrepit, worn out and thereby exposing service men to their untimely deaths.
This inability to get Nigeria airpower to function obviously explains why the Boko Haram insurgents and bandits are fast overrunning parts of the country, or how else can one explain why a ragtag militia men on motorbikes can continually inflict such mortal blows on the Nigeria military.
The Federal Government should for once take responsibility, take charge and abide by the rule books in handling security in the country by ensuring that proper steps in line with international aviation safety regulations are taking to save our military personnel from the flying coffins that our armed forces planes have become.
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Organ Trafficking: Ekweremadu, Wife, Doctor Sentenced To Various Prison Terms
The duo of Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, his wife Beatrice, and Doctor Obinna Obeta has been senenced to various jail terms for bringing a 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.
A judge at The Central Criminal Court, [ Old Bailey], announced the sentence friday.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday, Ekweremadu was jailed for nine years and eight months, his wife Beatrice was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment while Obeta received a 10-year prison term.
The sentencing follows their conviction in March for organ trafficking, The Ekweremadus’sick daughter, Sonia was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The jury said Ekweremadu, his wife and their doctor criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney.
The conviction is the first under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The sentencing comes after pleas from multiple prominent personalities and institutions, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Other petitioners included both chambers of the National Assembly, the Chairman/CEO, Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Erewa Dabiri, and the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
After months of a pre-trial, the trial commenced on January 31, 2023 and lasted about six weeks, culminating in a guilty verdict against Ekweremadu, Beatrice, and Obeta.
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Reps Seek UK Government Clemency for Ekweremadu
The House of Representatives has write to the government of the United Kingdom seeking mercy in sentencing the embattled Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice.
This is contained in a resolution reached following a motion moved by Toby Okechukwu, a lawmaker from Enugu State.
A UK court found the duo guilty of conspiracy of organ harvesting of another Nigerian. The Ekweremadu couple will be sentenced in the coming days.
Moving the motion, Okechukwu said diplomatic intervention in this kind of case is normal.
“It is a common practice in international relations for nations, including the UK, to seek relief for their citizens involved in situations such as that of the Ekweremadus,” he said.
Speaking on the motion, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House, said intervention by the House is not a justification for the charges against the Ekweremadus. He urged the UK government to consider Ekweremadu’s years of public service.
Consequently, the House resolved to urge the UK government and the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing Ekweremadu, his wife and the doctor.
Also, they urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to take all diplomatic steps and other necessary interventions regarding the travails of the Ekweremadu family.
- Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HYPPDEC Donates Food Stuff, Clothing to Locals in Kogi to Tackle Cashless Policy Effect
By Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPDEC), on Tuesday, donated 400 bags of rice, 250 gallons of vegetable oil and some packaged women rappers to ten Local Government Areas in Kogi State under the agency to cushion the effect associated with the new cashless policy.
Making the presentation to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State at the Lugard House, Lokoja on Tuesday, a Board Member of HYPPDEC, Alhaji Isah Ozi Salami, said that the gesture is part of the agency’s intervention in times of natural disaster or any hardship situation on citizens.
Salami expressed the commitment of HYPPDEC in tackling the prevailing economic hardship on Nigerians as a result of the Cashless Policy.
“We owe it as a duty to take adquate care of the people in the 10 Local Government Areas belonging to HYPPDEC communities in Kogi
“Our concern under the present economic hardship is to alleviate the sufferings of the people within HYPPDEC communities in Kogi” Ozi Salami told Governor Bello.
He commended Governor Yahaya Bello for the provision of logistic supports that have facilitated smooth operation of the agency in Kogi.
He also told the Governor that HYPPDEC will soon begin the construction of 50 housing units in Kogi for resettlement of last year’s flood victims in riverine communities.
“I appreciate Governor Bello’s magnanimity in providing land for the housing project. The Governor is expected to perform the foundation laying ceremony of the project” Ozi Salami disclosed.
The Chief of Staff to Governor Bello, Jamiu Asuku who received the food stuff on behalf of his boss, hinted that Kogi will key into HYPPDEC’s intervention initiative in the areas of provision of food and security of lives and property for citizens.
Governor Yahaya Bello appealed to HYPPDEC to focus more on Ibaji Local Government Area in its intervention programme as a result of the bad terrain of the area.
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