IT was hectic yesterday for Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar comforting family members, friends and colleagues of the five air force personnel, who died last week in combat in Damasak, Borno State,.
They broke down in tears as the remains of the five Air Force personnel were interred in Abuja with full military honours, accompanied by the traditional 21 gun- salute.
Some senior officers also fought back tears as they bade the fallen heroes farewell at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.
Air Marshal Abubakar said the death of the five crew members aboard the Nigerian Air Force Mi-35M Helicopter that crashed in combat in Borno should spur all Nigerians to resolve to fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in the country.
The CAS said the time has come for the nation to throw all it has into the on-going battle against Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast and ensure that the war end as soon as possible.
He asserted that the death of the five crew members and other fallen heroes in the on-going war against Boko Haram Terrorists should not be in vain.
Buried were: Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob (Pilot in Command); Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Paul Kilyofas (Co-Pilot); Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim (Flight Technician); Lance Corporal Adamu Nura (Gunner) and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael (Gunner).
Air Marshal Abubakar said: “With gratitude to Almighty God, I welcome all of you here today to the burial of our fallen colleagues Flt Lt P Jacob, Late Flt Lt KP Kilyofas, Late Sgt Ibrahim A, Late LCpl Nura A and Late ACM Ishmael M.
“These five heroes met their untimely death on 2, Jan. 19 at Damasak in active Service of our fatherland. These gallant heroes lost their lives in the pursuit of the peace which we all enjoy and often take for granted. We salute the courage of these young men, whose lot it became to give their lives for this purpose.
“The loss of these courageous and professional gentlemen must spur the rest of us not only to rededicate ourselves in the service of our Nation, but also to resolve that we expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in our society.
“We must throw in everything we have to this fight to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain. We must do everything possible to bring the ongoing insurgency in the Northeast to a speedy end that is favourable to our nation.
“I am indeed deeply touched and saddened by the price which our patriots had to pay in this needless fight against insurgency.
“Our departed heroes fought that we live in a safe and secure Nigeria where the freedom of worship and association of one and all are guaranteed under one indivisible nation.
“Therefore, as we resolve to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of defending the nation, let me at this juncture restate our profound commitment and unalloyed loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, in his efforts at tackling the challenges bedeviling our national security.
“This is not a speech making occasion, but a time for sober reflections as we pray for the eternal repose of the gentle souls of our departed heroes, all of whom will be greatly missed but are fondly remembered for their invaluable services to the nation and humanity.
“Jacob, Kilyofas, Ibrahim, Nura and Ishmael, today, as you go to your final resting place, may the Lord be with you forever and be assured that the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the Nation will remain ever grateful to you for your service and sacrifice.
“To the families of the deceased, I know Nigerians everywhere join me in praying for you as you shoulder this heavy burden of grief. May time ease the soaring pain of today and please note that the entire nation shares this grief with you.
“There can be no better consolation than the knowledge that the nation grieves with you on the loss of these amiable and patriotic Nigerians, who paid the supreme price in the course of their duty to the fatherland.
“As we conclude the interment of Jacob, Kilyofas, Ibrahim, Nura and Ishmael, we fervently pray for all our departed colleagues who have paid the supreme price in the course of ensuring the integrity of our dear nation. As Nigerians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of these five gentlemen and those before them.”