- As Air Force finally confirms the death of officer
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The government of Czech Republic has offered a postgraduate scholarship to the wife of the late Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fallen hero, Wing Commander Chinda Stephen Hedima, to study Epidemiology at the Czech Defence University, Prague.
The Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, disclosed this in a statement yesterday, saying the gesture was in the spirit of the existing cordial relationship between the Czech Republic and the NAF.
Famuyiwa said the late Wing Commander Hedima was killed in September 2014 by members of Boko Haram while on operation in North-east.
However, this was the first time the Nigerian military authorities are confirming the death of the Air Force pilot, whose speculated death in combat mission was subject to controversy.
The Air Force spokesman said the senior officer, before his demise, had his combat simulator training on the Alpha Jet with Aero Vodochody in the Czech Republic.
According to him, the full scholarship award to Mrs. Hedima was in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice by her husband in the ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the North-east.
Presenting the award, the Czech Republic Deputy Minister of Defence, Tomas Kuchta, said the gesture was an extension of the friendship between the Czech Republic and Nigeria, and in recognition of the gallantry act exhibited by the late senior officer in the service of his fatherland.
He recalled that late Wing Commander Hedima put-up good performance, and was disciplined and friendly during his training in the Czech Republic. He also used the occasion of the scholarship award to extend the condolence of the Czech Ministry of Defence to the people of Nigeria for the great loss.
In his response, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal SB Abubakar, who received the Czech Republic delegation in his office, noted that the NAF was witnessing for the first time the kind of gesture demonstrated by the Czech Republic.
Abubakar described the late Hedima as a brave and hardworking officer who lived a short but very successful life, describing his death as noble in laying down his life for a just cause in the defence of humanity.
The CAS also commended the Czech Republic for placing humanity above capitalist interest in business relations and added that “the Nigerian Air Force will continue to celebrate her fallen heroes.”
He stated that the gesture by the Czech Republic would go a long way to encourage other NAF personnel to put in their best in the service to the nation.
The late Hedima was the pilot of the NAF Alpha Jet (NAF 466) that was declared missing since 2014 when it went on a mission to dislodge the marauding Boko Haram terrorists from some towns of Adamawa State.