Forty-eight hours after two Nigerian Airforce Pilots lost their lives in the fatal Alpha jet accident which crashed in Mali, the names of the victims of the crash have been released.
The crash occurred close to Niamey, the Malian Capital city.
The Nigerian Airforce authority on Tuesday gave the names the pilots as Squadron Leader Benjamin Ado and Flying Officer Ayuba Layelmenson.
Both of them were young men with one survived by a child, while the other officer was a bachelor.
The release of the names of the officers came as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, paid condolence visits to families of both officers in Kaduna and Kainji.
A statement by Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, Director of Air Force Public Relations said: “Following the unfortunate Alpha Jet accident of yesterday, the Nigerian Air Force has released the names of the two pilots that died in the aircraft in Niamey.
“The officers are Squadron Leader Benjamin Ben Ado and Flying Officer Ayuba Joab Layelmenson.
“Ado hailed from Konchisha Local Government Area of Benue State and was a member of the 50th Regular Course of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
“Flying Officer Layelmenson hailed from Azare in Shongom Local Government Area of Gombe State and was a member of the 57th Regular Course.
“He graduated from Hellenic Air Force Academy in July 2011 and was commissioned as pilot officer.”
“He was an instructor pilot and has flown many aircraft types in the inventory of the Nigerian Air Force as well as Pakistan and the United states. The senior officer was married and blessed with a child.
The Nigerian fighter jet, which was part of those taking part in the military operations against al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants in Mali crashed in the western region of Niger Republic, killing its two crew members.
The incident marked the first casualties in Mali for Nigerian troops, which form the largest contingent in a West African regional force participating in the French-led campaign to drive Islamist rebels from the country’s desert north.
Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force, said the plane was an Alpha jet stationed in Niger as part of a Nigerian squadron supporting the mission in Mali.
“An investigation is going on to find out what happened. They were on a normal routine flight about 60 km (37 miles) west of Niamey when something happened,” Anas said.
Asked if there was any evidence of anti-aircraft fire, he said: “We don’t know but it was inside Nigerien territory.”
A Niger security source said the jet crashed near Dargol in the Tillabery region which borders Mali.
“The plane was not shot at. It was not in enemy territory so for now we are looking at maybe a mechanical problem,” another security official from Niger, who asked not to be identified, said.