Nigeria’s army chief, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, died in a Beechcraft King Air B350 crash on Friday on an official visit to the northern state of Kaduna, which has had security challenges in recent months, the presidency said.
The Nigerian air force said in a statement that its Beechcraft King Air B350 crashed near Kaduna airport and that it was investigating the cause.
The presidency said the army chief and other military officers died in the crash on Friday.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a presidency statement, described the crash as a “mortal blow … at a time our armed forces are poised to end the security challenges facing the country.”
A tweet made by Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the Director of Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force on 21 May, explains that “an air crash involving a @NigAirForce aircraft occurred this evening near the Kaduna International Airport. The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained. More details to follow soon.”
Mr Attahiru was appointed chief of army staff on January 26, succeeding Tukur Buratai. He was 54.
Mr Attahiru was killed alongside other military chiefs who were on the same flight. The presidency has already been briefed about the development.
Attahiru was appointed alongside other military chiefs in January after years of mounting criticism over spreading violence by Islamist insurgents and armed gangs.
This recent Beechcraft King Air B350 crash occurred months after a series of crashes involving the air forces’ aircrafts. In 31 March, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Dassault Dornier Alpha jet trainer and light attack aircraft on routine mission in support of troops of the Theatres of Operation in the Northern part of Nigeria crashed.
Likewise, in February, NAF201, a small Nigerian air force Beechcraft King Air B350 plane went down just outside Abuja airport following alleged engine failure, killing all seven people on board.
The NAF had four Beechcraft King Air B350 aircraft: NAF201, NAF202, NAF203, and NAF204. NAF201 and NAF203 have crashed.
For this past few years, the NAF has lost some of its aircraft. In 15 November 2019, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) lost an AgustaWestland AW-109 light utility and transport helicopter.
Also, in January 2019, a Russian-Made Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters crashed.
Similarly, in July 2017, another AgustaWestland AW 109 helicopter was forced down on a body of water by the crew after it developed a technical glitch.