• Fate of pilots unknown
The Alpha Jet (NAF 466) belonging to the Nigerian Air Force declared missing by the Defence Headquarters in its Adamawa State’s operations may have been sighted by residents before it crashed.
The plane was said to have crashed on Saturday at Gabun village near Gaanda, in Gombi Local Government of the state.
Local farmers in Gombi Local Government Area of the state yesterday claimed to have sighted an aircraft that crashed at a place near Gabun primary school.
The residents said they saw a ‘low-flying jumbo jet’ matching the description of the missing Alpha Jet after it disappeared on Friday.
Several residents of Hawul, a border town in Borno State, also said they saw an aircraft in military colours with green-red-stripes flying so low over the mountains as the plane’s doors were clearly visible.
The residents, who are predominantly farmers, claimed they were disturbed by the incredibly loud noise on Friday, with the plane travelling from north to south-east, towards Hawul– Gabun.
A witness was said to have noted that “I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our mountains before. We’ve seen planes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly.
“It’s not just me; several other residents have reported seeing the same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.”
According sources, the plane may have crashed at Gabun, near a primary school, but without hurting the natives, as the pupils were reportedly not in session during the incident.
Gabun is a mountainous terrain, which runs through Biu in Borno State.
The village is a short distance from Michika and Madagali Local Government areas of the state where the military had engaged the Boko Haram terrorists last week in a bid to rout them from the areas they claimed they were in control.
It could, however, not be ascertained as at press time whether the two pilots said to have been on board survived or not, but a statement on the issue was still being expected by the Defence Headquarters .
Defence Headquarters had declared the Alpha Jet (NAF 466) missing in operation in Adamawa State.
Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade stated on Sunday that the aircraft, with two pilots on board, left Yola at about 10:45am on Friday, 12th September 2014, on a routine operational mission and was expected back by 12:00 noon but it never returned.
“Since then, all efforts to establish contact with the aircraft have not yielded any positive result. Meanwhile, search and rescue effort is ongoing to establish contact with the crew,” the short statement by the Defence spokesman had said.
A search and rescue operation had combed the place, but no further information was given.
The military, backed by war planes, has been fighting to push back recent advances by Boko Haram into the north of Adamawa state and also towards Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.