There is an atmosphere of jubilation following the return of Gallant pilot to base after bandits shot down a military jet in Zamfara.
Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, a Nigerian Airforce pilot, has been rescued after armed bandits shot down a Nigerian Airforce Alpha Jet aircraft in Zamfara State.
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Dairo was returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states when the aircraft came under attack and crashed, according to Nigerian Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who confirmed the crash in a statement on Monday.
He claimed that Dairo escaped by ejecting from the plane before it crashed and that when he landed, armed bandits pursued him.
“On July 18, 2021, around 12.45 p.m., a Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the borders of Zamfara and Kaduna states, came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its crash in Zamfara State,” Gabkwet said.
“Fortunately, the aircraft’s brave pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, was able to successfully evacuate from the plane. The pilot, who came under heavy ground fire from the bandits, used his survival skills to elude them and seek refuge in surrounding settlements until sunset.
Flight Lieutenant Dairo eluded multiple bandits’ strongholds and made his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued, using the cover of darkness and his phone as guidance.
“It is essential to note that, upon receiving word of the disaster, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, the Chief of Air Staff, commanded that all efforts be made to rescue the pilot.”
According to Gabkwet, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance platforms and helicopter gunships supplied close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army forces, who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, as well as search neighbouring areas for any trace of the pilot.
“It’s heartening to learn that, while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft near the crash scene assisted in scaring off the bandits who were after him, allowing him to seek sanctuary and flee to a safe location,” he continued.
“It is also important to remember that only recently, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, directed the Armed Forces of Nigeria to do everything possible to flush out criminal elements in the states of Katsina, Zamfara, and Kaduna.
“To carry out this command, the NAF, in collaboration with surface forces, has conducted extensive day and night air interdiction operations against bandits and their hideouts, particularly in these three states, during the last two weeks. Hundreds of bandits have been neutralised and several of their hideouts have been destroyed as a result of these extensive air operations.
“Despite yesterday’s setback, the NAF is dedicated to carrying out Mr. President’s mandate as well as other constitutionally mandated responsibilities. As it continues to carry out its assigned responsibilities, the NAF’s willingness, preparedness, and tested ability remain unshaken and unwavering.”
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