Published 20th July, 2021
An Air Force fighter pilot jumped to safety on Sunday after bandits shot down a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha jet in Zamfara State.
Zamfara, along with Kaduna, is the hotbed of banditry in the Northwest.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Northwest governors to end banditry in the zone.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Lucky Irabor has met with retired military officers in the zone to enlist their support for the onslaught against the bandits.
Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, according to the NAF, was returning from a mission against the bandits when his jet was brought down.
Recalling the incident in a statement, NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said: “On 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states came under intense enemy fire which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
“Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft.
“Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset. Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.”
The NAF spokesman explained that the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Alao, on hearing of the crash “directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.”
He added: “It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.”
The Air Force said: “despite the setback of yesterday’s (Sunday) crash, NAF “remains committed to fulfilling Mr. President’s mandate as well as other constitutional roles assigned to it.”
Sunday’s het crash is the fourth this year involving Air Force aircrafts. On May 24, a NAF jet crashed in Kaduna State, killing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru and 10 other officers