The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has refuted a video by the Boko Haram sect claiming it shot down the missing NAF Alpha Jet aircraft.
The NAF 475 jet deployed against the insurgents lost contact with radar in Borno State on Wednesday, March 31 with two pilots on board. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
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The Boko Haram had on Friday released a video showing what appeared to be the downing of the military aircraft by its fighters.
But in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF asked Nigerians to ignore the video, which it said was deliberately doctored to give the false impression that the aircraft was shot down.
“For instance, the video clip failed to show the correlation between the sporadic shooting, which even from casual observation was obviously aimed at ground targets, and the sudden mid-air aircraft explosion. In addition, it is almost impossible for an aircraft to have exploded mid-air in the manner depicted in the video and still have a good part of its fuselage, including its tail, intact.
“It is obvious that the Boko Haram sect, in its characteristic manner of employing false propaganda, is seeking to claim credit for what was obviously an air accident that could have been caused by several other reasons, particularly at a time when the capability of the group to inflict mayhem has been significantly degraded by the Armed Forces of Nigeria,” he said.
Reacting to the video, a Sweden-based security analyst, Hugo Kaaman, accused the Boko Haram sect of taking a clip from a 2012 incident in Syria to claim responsibility for the missing jet of the NAF.
“Boko Haram just released a video claiming to have shot down a NAF jet. Looking at the video, it appears the jet exploded mid-air. However, this is not true. Boko Haram took a 2012 video showing a SyAAF helicopter exploding mid-air over Idlib and superimposed it. Weak.
“Just to be clear, the jet really crashed. It is unclear whether this was due to hostile fire or technical issues. The wreckage can be seen in the same Boko Haram video. This video merely highlights Boko Haram’s fake footage of the shoot-down itself,” Kaaman said while comparing both videos.”
Also, a security expert, Abubakar Ismail said, “Bringing down an aircraft such as the one we saw will require serious precision and a ballistic missile; it was not a helicopter. But the fact that it went in flames mid-air showed that something happened.”
Meanwhile, aviation experts have advocated improved collaboration between the military and civil aviation authorities to reduce the frequency of military crashes.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that while the aviation industry has a separate agency in charge of investigation of air accidents and incidents, military air accidents and incidents are handled internally.
Aviation expert, Captain Alex Nwuba, said there was the need to improve the tracking of military personnel, whether they are captured in the forest, plane crash, or something. We need to create better tools for finding and recovering people who sacrifice their lives for the defence of the country.
Another expert, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd), called for a National Air Traffic Services as obtained in most developed countries as against the Civil Air Traffic Services in Nigeria.
“The disconnect between the military and civil air traffic was penalty loss in the US during the 9/11. A national air traffic service is the baby of the civil and the military, the way it is in the UK. We had similar set up in 1990 but wrongly put under the FCAA. We should revisit it,” he said.