Some residents of a community in Zamfara State who are sstill apprehensive of a retaliatory bandits attack on Monday gave an insight into how they rescued a pilot shortly after he parachuted following a crash of his fighter jet on Sunday.
The fate of other crew members however remained unknown.
Credible sources told our correspondent that the fighter jet crashed near a community located 15km west of Dansadau town.
A resident said: “The pilot jumped down using parachute and quickly headed to a nearby community. The residents upon realizing what had happened decided to hide him so that he might not be identified and killed by armed bandits.”
“The armed criminals truly came soon after and were spotted loitering around the scene of the crash probably looking for any survivor.”
The resident who wouldn’t want to be named for security reasons added: “The residents waited until dawn and asked the pilot to dress like a typical villager as a disguise and then ferried him to Dansadau town where they handed him over to the district head. He spent a night at the district head residence.”
“This morning two NAF helicopters and a fighter jet arrived and picked the rescued pilot. The helicopter landed near a Secondary School in the town, while the fighter jet hovered around. The pilot was handed over to them and they took off immediately,” another resident said.
The Kumbayana forest, where the jet crashed straddling Zamfara, Kebbi, and Niger states is heavily infested by armed bandits led by Dogo Gide and one Sani Mochoko. Dogo Gide is believed to have ties with Boko Haram.
However, in a statement on Monday, Spokesman of NAF, Edward Gabkwet, said the aircraft was attacked while returning from an air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna States.
He said the pilot and all other occupants were rescued, adding that the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft.
”Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements waiting for sunset,” he said.
Yesterday’s crash brings to four the total crashes within one year, one of which claimed the life of a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru.