As the Nigerian Airforce discloses the identity of the two officers in its aircraft missing since Wednesday, it has countered a claim by the Boko Haram.
The insurgents said they drowned the aircraft, as claimed through a video that has gone viral.
While NAF identified the two men as Flt Lts. John Abolarinwa and Ebiakpo Chapele, it insisted on Friday that there was no confirmation of the claims, noting that the clips posted online by the group might be that of a previous incident.
Here are the five reasons NAF gave:
– There have been up to four videos in circulation
– There are inconsistencies in the videos
– The videos do not show the aircraft number
– They do not show the identity of the officers
– One of them shows lush green that is not consistent with northern environment
According to NAF spokesperson, Edward Gabkwet, the aircraft which lost radar contact on Wednesday around 5pm was providing support for ground troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East region when it disappeared.
Gabkwet said, “Intelligence report gathered by the Nigerian Air Force indicates that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with two crew members on board on March 31, 2021, might have crashed. The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the two pilots remain unknown.
“The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele. Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground. At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.
“We have seen some videos but there is nothing that has proven that the aircraft in those clips belongs to us, or have you seen a Nigerian Air Force aircraft number or the body of Air Force pilot or have you seen any Air Force uniform? Until we get all these details, we are not going to go into speculation.
“That video could have been shot somewhere. I have seen four videos so far; one of them has lush vegetation in the background, and I wonder where they have such vegetation in the Northeast. Unless they did something and they are releasing the clips bit by bit, we are waiting.
“Except we have evidence, because like I said, these persons have families and you cannot go to their wives, parents or wards, without concrete evidence. There must be something to show.