*Defence Minister, CDS, Air Force Chief visit crash site
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force has released the names of the seven personnel, who died in the air crash involving one of its aircraft, a Beechcraft KingAir B350i (NAF 201), which crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.
It said in a statement Sunday night that the aircraft was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State.
The names of the fallen officers include Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama (Captain), Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo (Co-Pilot) and Flying Officer Micheal Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) Specialist).
Others are Warrant Officer Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist), Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS Specialist), Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS Specialist) and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).
The statement said the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has instituted an investigative panel to determine the remote and immediate causes of the accident.
It said while the panel has commenced its work, the NAF, had officially notified the next of kins/family members of the deceased.
Earlier, the CAS visited the scene of the accident, in company of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and other Service Chiefs.
“The CAS, on behalf of officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF, once more commiserates with the families of the deceased personnel and prays that the Almighty God grants their souls eternal repose”, it said.