The Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, says the death of two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) pilots, Flt.-Lt. Abubakar Alkali and Flt.-Lt. Elijah Karatu, is a devastating loss to Nigeria.
Magashi, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri on Thursday, said the death of Alkali and Karatu in line of duty was sad but heroic.
He said the sad occurrence had unfortunately depleted the manpower assets of NAF especially now that the service had deployed air asset in joint operations to support the land forces in various theatres.
The minister, however, gave the assurance that the sacrifices of the two pilots shall not be in vain.
He urged NAF not to allow the crash to dampen the high morale of its officers, airmen and airwomen in sustaining the current tempo of anti-banditry and counter-terrorism operations across the country.
Magashi commended the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao for being proactive in constituting an investigating board to unravel the cause of the crash.
He commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari, NAF, the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased pilots.