The Oasis Reporters
July 20, 2021
How Pilot Of Shot Down Air Force Jet Escaped Bandits – NAF
The testimony of Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo himself
The Nigerian Air Force has given more details on how the pilot of the Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet shot down by bandits in Zamfara was able to escape.
Flt. Lt. A Dairo, who narrowly escaped capture after being shot down, narrates the chilling methods of the bandits brutality.
Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said that the pilot of the crashed air plane, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo after successfully ejecting, used the cover of darkness and his phone’s navigational system was able to find his way to a Nigerian Army unit where he found safety.
The full statement from the Air Force reads thus:
“On 18 July 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State, came under intense enemy fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
“Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, 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 awaiting sunset.
“Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.
“It is instructive to note that upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, had directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot.
“Accordingly, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
“It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.
“It is important to also recall that only recently, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, had directed the Armed Forces of Nigeria to do all it takes to flush out criminal elements in Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna States. It is in fulfilment of this directive that the NAF, in conjunction with surface forces, has in the last 2 weeks mounted intensive day and night air interdiction operations against bandits and their hideouts, especially in these 3 states.
“Through these intensive air operations, hundreds of bandits have been neutralized and several of their hideouts destroyed.
“Despite the setback of yesterday’s crash, the NAF remains committed towards fulfilling Mr President’s mandate as well as other constitutional roles assigned to it.
“The willingness, readiness and tested ability of the NAF remains unshaken and unwavering as it continues to carry out its assigned roles”.
While thanking everyone, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo said he’s “indebted to Bro Ekele and bro Olagbende, and everyone on the” Military platform.
“Before Sunday I had been having dreams where I saw myself fighting and evading enemies like real-time war, day in day out, like nightmares, so when my jet got shot at with explosives and my flight controls were destroyed and I had no choice than to eject, I just said ‘God, finally, here we go’… As I was flanked by the bandits, I kept praying and I kept telling God to answer your prayers because I know you were all praying for me. I love you all. And I thank God for bestowing his love on me and saving me from death several times within that period… I will still share my testimonies but truly, God ordered my steps, the bandits (meanwhile they are ruthless like Boko haram, I dunno why we still call them bandits) were more interested in capturing me than shooting me at (even at point blank range), eventually they got neither…
He gave me the strength to run and walk covering almost 30kms even with one strained leg. Having not had any food or water all day, I prayed for strength because I needed it, and he gave me. I can spend hours talking on how I lost and regained hope multiple times throughout my adventure, but God is faithful. It’s now I’m feeling all the pains I suffered from the ejection (including a fracture in my neck and painful back and chest), but God didn’t allow those pains to slow me down for the bandits to capture me.
NAF platforms overhead also helped me to deter them a lot by making some of them to pin down while I kept running, and when they got close to me, I was still able to evade them by camouflaging (I was wearing green fg suits – in the green forest) and concealing myself. I ran into plenty of spiders and I laid down several times out of weakness not knowing if anything poisonous would sting or bite me.
All glory is to God, all glory. I have not been your most righteous brother, but I felt God’s hands in everything, even in every decision I took immediately I was shot, all the decisions worked together to save my life. Eg, removing my phone from my lap and putting it in my G -suit before pulling the ejection handle (I had to use the compass of the phone and AirNav Pro application to navigate), and making the decision to turn hard 90 degrees immediately the bandits lost sight of me on a sandy cliff where they couldn’t trace my footpath again (the CAS told me they got information that in turn, the bandits kept going straight in the direction I was initially going and they destroyed several villages and camps, killing plenty people, thinking those people harbored me).
So much more… The village I eventually entered at night, I told God that the first person I see and call should favour me and that happened, he gave me clothes, pain-relieving drugs, food and water and even malt, and he organized for a bike to carry me to DanSadau early next morning (throughout the night I couldn’t sleep, I was praying that the bandits don’t attack the village because my right leg was already swollen and very painful so I couldn’t jump fences or run again, plus I didn’t want to bring death upon innocent people, and it may force the guy to give me out to the bandits…), they dropped me with their Emir who with pride and joy called the Army guys to come and meet me (they all had sleepless nights). NAF helicopters came to pick me up from there. There is so much to say. All thanks to God, thank you so much”.
Flt. Lt. A Dairo’s testimony that takes one’s breath away.