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Notorious group claims responsibility for shooting down NAF jet in Niger

A suspected notorious terrorist, Dogo Gide, and his members have claimed responsibility for shooting down a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter near Chukuba Ward in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.

Gide, and his group are little known to Nigerians before Tuesday. The group sent out a viral video allegedly recorded at the site of Monday’s Air Force jet crash, claiming responsibility for the accident.

In the less-than-three minutes clip, the terrorists claimed they killed dozens of soldiers on the plane.

Our reporter counted 11 bodies in the video, with some of them in camouflage.

The video showed terrorists wielding AK-47s. The aircraft had the inscription NAF 582.

The narrator said: “These are bodies belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian Army who attacked us with the intention of causing us harm.

“They did this to see the downfall of Dogo Gide and by God’s grace, he is still alive and won’t die.

“These are dozens of soldiers as you can see them. This is their airplane. Repent, we have no business with anyone except those who try to come for us. This is God’s work. We used an AK-47 to bring down this plane.

“Take a look at them. Let this be a lesson. You all should repent. It is not our intention to kill but for everyone to be enlightened and have the fear of God. Leaders who sent these soldiers our way to be killed by us should repent.

“We won’t surrender from pressure or even an aeroplane. Dogo Gide, who is their target, won’t die now. He is still alive. These are the AK-47s we used to bring down this plane.

“We opened fire when we sighted them and they did the same. Repent and fear God. We pray for God’s mercy at all times. This is God’s work and not ours as you can see.”

A resident, Simon Bulus, said: “The Dogo Gide terrorist group operates in the forest.”

One of the residents said: “When we heard continuous gunshots, we took to our heels. But we saw shots being fired at the helicopter,” a resident, Haruna Ibrahim, said.

The Nigerian Air Force MI-171 helicopter that took off from Zungeru, Niger State heading for Kaduna, crashed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu commiserated with the families of those who died in the crash.

Contrary to the terrorists’ claim, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, attributed the crash to bad weather.

According to him, seasonal weather challenges, which he said usually hamper officers’ striking capabilities, were also responsible for the crash.

The CAS spoke when Niger State Governor, Umar Bago, paid him a condolence visit over the death of pilots and some soldiers in the incident.

Abubakar said: “Going forward, we are striving to achieve zero incidents in all our operations. That challenge we’re addressing.

“We also have other challenges which are seasonal. For example, the rain has come and there is a route cloud. This hampers what we can see, especially in terms of our strike capabilities.

“Also, when the harmattan comes, it also has effects on our operations. These are challenges we live with and we hope that sometimes you understand when our operations are hampered or impeded by some of these challenges.”

The Air chief said as long as NAF aircraft operate and fly in order to degrade the enemies, incidents or accidents cannot be ruled out.

“The fact is that, as long as we operate, fly airplanes, there would be incidents and accidents.

“In fact, the volume of incidents and accidents is directly proportional to the rate of operations,” he said.

Bago said the state was vulnerable to security challenges because it has the largest landmass and is surrounded by water bodies.


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