By Joy Odor
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar has paid a hospital visit to the 5 crew members of 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) involved in the unfortunate crash of a Nigerian Air Force MI-35P helicopter in Port Harcourt on Friday to assess the situation.
In a press statement to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja by Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, Director of Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force, CAS directed the Commander of the Medical Centre to ensure they received the utmost attention required.
Air Marshal Abubakar during the visit encouraged them to see the setback as a setup for a resilient comeback, channelling efforts toward thwarting the activities of economic saboteurs and countering oil theft.
He also charged them to see air accidents or mishaps as impetus to propel all NAF personnel towards seeking improved safety management measures, while remaining undeterred and focused in tackling the myriads of security threats facing the nation.
“You must therefore never be discouraged as the hopes of millions of Nigerians rest on our shoulders.
“The realization of these aspirations is hinged on our ability to combat all forms of criminality that threaten our peace and stability.
“Times like these are a sad reminder of the inherent risks in military aviation, especially when flying activities, occasioned by our current security challenges, have tremendously increased.
“As we continue to fly intensively, incidents are bound to occur. Nevertheless, we must continue to ensure we minimize the risk factors as reasonably practicable” he said.
Air Marshal Abubakar commended the crew for the professional manner in which they handled the emergency situation they found themselves.
The CAS opined that 115 SOG has been well known for its gallantry and fighting spirit and the mere presence of the MI-35P helicopters on the battlefield has been a game changer, saying the helicopters have, over the years, continued to strike fear deep into the hearts of terrorists and other criminals while at the same time boosting the morale of surface forces.
“Your actions were commendable and a decisive factor in mitigating the extent of damage to public property and loss of lives” he noted.
He extended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s appreciation for their sacrifices abd assured them of their welfare and other needs to ensure they effectively carry out their assigned duties.
Air Marshal Abubakar also informed them that he had directed for the immediate commencement of the accident investigation, “So that we can learn exactly what happened and prevent future occurrences.”