The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says its fighter jet deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents may have crashed.
The jet on Wednesday evening lost contact with radar in Borno state.
The jet was on a mission to provide support for troops on the ground fighting Boko Haram insurgents.
Edward Gabkwet, the NAF spokesperson, in a statement on Friday, said the whereabouts of the two flying officers piloting the jet remains unknown.
“Intelligence report gathered by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) indicates that the Alpha Jet aircraft (NAF475) that went off the radar with 2 crew members on board on 31 March 2021 might have crashed,” he said.
“The cause of the crash as well as the whereabouts of the 2 pilots remain unknown. The pilots are Flight Lieutenant John Abolarinwa and Flight Lieutenant Ebiakpo Chapele.
“Extensive search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground.
“At this point, the NAF is not ruling out anything regarding the incident. It however remains hopeful that the crew would soon be found and rescued.”
Earlier, Oladayo Amao, the chief of air staff, visited the NAF base in Maiduguri to be briefed on the ongoing search and rescue efforts in connection with the jet.
He asked pilots, engineers and technicians to remain undeterred and resolute in their commitment to ensuring that peace returns to the north-east.
In February, an aircraft of the air force crashed at the Abuja airport — with all seven personnel on board dead.
The air force personnel who died were said to be en route to Niger state to rescue students abducted from Government Science College, Kagara.
Editor’s note: The photo used in this report is only for illustration.