By Patience Danjuma
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has confirmed the death of one of the pilots who were on the aircraft that crashed in Abuja earlier on Friday. This is even as the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, visited two other pilots who survived the crash involving two fighter jets in Katampe district.
The two survivors are receiving treatment at a military hospital in Abuja.
NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola confirmed the death of the pilot officer in a statement.
He said, “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.
“May his soul RIP. Additional details on the incident will be communicated later.”
The remains of the deceased pilot, identified as Squadron Leader Bello Baba-Ari, an indigene of Yobe State, was laid to rest at Gudu cemetery, Abuja.
During his visit to the survivors, Kyari said said President Muhammadu Buhari had been informed about the crash.
“I wish you quick recovery. The President said we should come and see you and wish you well, he is fully aware, he has been informed on what happened. We are proud of your service to your country,” he said.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, who spoke with State House correspondents, described the incident as “the tragic nature of our job”.
“As combat pilots sometimes terrible things happen and this is one of those days.”
He said the officers had been rehearsing for the 58th anniversary of the country, and that “everybody was full of enthusiasm, excited to be part of the celebration, unfortunately we had this incident this afternoon.
“We have set up a board of inquiry to clearly understand what really happened. This was supposed to the last rehearsal before the actual flying on the 1st of October,” he said.
Abubakar also said it was “unfortunate that we lost one of them, but we are also consoled by the fact that we have two of the pilots here who are in stable condition, they have been visited by the Chief of Staff and I have also visited them.”
The remains of the deceased pilot was buried on Friday