The Nigerian Air Force has confirmed that five crew members died in the military helicopter that crashed on Wednesday evening in the country’s north-east.
It adds that their bodies have been recovered from the wreckage.
The cause of the crash has not been confirmed. The aircraft had been supporting ground troops against Boko Haram militants in the Damasak area which borders Niger, a military spokesman said.
President Muhammadu Buhari said the airmen and crew have paid the supreme price for the nation.
NAF director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, gave the names of the deceased as Flight Lt. Perowei Jacob (pilot in command) Flight Lt. Kaltho Paul Kilyofas (co-pilot), Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim (flight technician), Lance Corporal Adamu Nura (gunner) and Aircraftman Meshack Ishmael (gunner).
Daramola, in a statement, said: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of the five crew members who were on board the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Mi-35M helicopter, which crashed in combat yesterday, January 2, 2019, while providing close air support to troops of 145 Battalion, Damasak, in Borno State.”
Disclosing that the remains of the deceased have been taken to Maiduguri, he added: “These gallant fallen heroes made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our fatherland, for which the NAF and indeed the entire nation owes them an unending debt of gratitude. The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on behalf all officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF, commiserates with the families of the five fallen heroes and prays that the Almighty grants their souls peaceful repose.
“The CAS was in Maiduguri today, January 3, 2019, to convey the condolences of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to personnel of the Air Task Force, Operation Lafiya Dole, over the unfortunate loss. While in Maiduguri, the CAS also received a condolence visit from the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai.
“The NAF appreciates the overwhelming support shown by the general public to the service over the sad incident. We continue to solicit your understanding and support as we daily strive to ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.”