The investigative panel set up by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, has begun sitting in Abuja on Monday, while members have also visited the scene of the fatal aircraft crash to collect evidence for examination.
The panel was instituted to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the crash which claimed the lives of seven NAF personnel who were on a mission to search for the abducted Kagara school pupils in Niger State on Sunday.
The NAF Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft had crashed while returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after reporting an engine failure en route to Minna.
Everyone onboard died in the crash.
They were Flight Lieutenant Haruna Gadzama, the Captain; Flight Lieutenant Henry Piyo, the Co-pilot; Flying Officer Micheal Okpara, an Airborne Tactical Observation System Specialist; Warrant Officer Bassey Etim, ATOS Specialist; Flight Sergeant Olasunkanmi Olawunmi, ATOS Specialist; Sergeant Ugochukwu Oluka, ATOS Specialist; and Aircraftman Adewale Johnson, Onboard Technician.
The Chief of the Air Staff had ordered an "immediate investigation" into the incident, as several Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari mourned the loss of the personnel.
"Yes. The panel has begun its sitting. It has also visited the scene of the crash and it is expected to collect fragments and evidence from the scene for forensic and other examination.
"The crash is not being treated as an isolated incident. We are looking at its relation to the abduction, banditry and the general insecurity in the country," a source told SaharaReporters.
"The aircraft was returning to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after reporting engine failure enroute to Minna, where it was scheduled to conduct surveillance missions over Niger State and its environs in connection with the concerted efforts to secure the release of the students/staff abducted from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
"The Chief of the Air Staff instituted an investigative panel to determine the remote and immediate causes of the accident. The CAS visited the scene of the accident, in company of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retired); Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, and other Service Chiefs," the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, had said on Sunday evening.”