The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, has visited crew members of the Nigerian Air Force MI-35P attack helicopter that crashed on Friday in Port Harcourt.
Abubakar commended the five crew members receiving treatment at the NAF medical centre in Port Harcourt, for the professional manner in which they handled the emergency.
He said that their action was commendable and a decisive factor in mitigating the extent of damage to public property and loss of lives.
The CAS, who visited the injured crew members on Sunday, directed the medical director of the centre to render first class treatment to them.
According to a statement by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the CAS also addressed troops of 115 Special Operations Group (115 SOG) during the visit.
He encouraged them to see the setback as a step for a more resilient comeback, and channeling efforts towards thwarting the activities of economic saboteurs and oil thieves in their area of operation.
He urged them not to be discouraged, saying that the hope of millions of Nigerians rest on their shoulders.
According to him, the realisation of these aspirations is hinged on their ability to combat all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of the nation.
Abubakar urged all NAF personnel to regard the incident as a challenge to improve safety measures, while remaining undeterred and focused in tackling the myriads of security threats facing the nation.
“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.
He said that that 115 SOG had been well known for its gallantry and fighting spirit and the presence of the MI-35P helicopters on the battlefield had been a game changer.
According to him, the helicopters have over the years, continued to strike fear deep into the hearts of terrorists and other criminals, and at the same time boosting the morale of surface forces.
The CAS extended President Bola Tinubu’s appreciation to the personnel for their sacrifices, assuring them of improved welfare and logistics to effectively carry out their assigned duties.
He said investigation had commenced to unravel the circumstances behind the crash with a view to prevent future occurrence.