‘Bandits are terrorists like Boko Haram,’ says pilot of downed NAF Jet

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Photo: Dairo flanked by CDS, CAS, COAS, others after his rescue

Flt. Lt. Abayomi Dairo, the pilot of the ill-fated Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet that was shot down by bandits in Zamfara State on Sunday, has described the bandits as terrorists who should be addressed as such, adding that they are as ruthless as their Boko Haram counterparts operating in the North-Eastern part of the country.

The fighter jet was shot down after a successful operation between Zamfara and Kaduna forests but Dairo had survived after he ejected himself before the plane went down.

Narrating his miraculous and heroic escape from death in the hands of his assailants, the pilot described the bandits as terrorists, saying “they are ruthless like Boko haram, I don’t know why we still call them bandits”.

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He also narrated how the so-called bandits ruthlessly unleashed terror on villagers where they suspected that he was hiding in a futile attempt to capture him alive, adding that many people were killed with several properties destroyed.

He said, “And I made the wise decision to turn hard 90 degrees, and 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 harboured me”.

“They were more interested in capturing” me alive than “shooting” me even at point-blank range, I ran and walked for 30 kilometers with one strained leg,” he said.

Dairo further revealed that while on his survival mission, NAF platforms overhead also helped him to deter the bandits by making some of them pin down while he kept running.

Fortunately for him, he said he subsequently made his way into a village where he was sheltered and cared for until NAF helicopters came to pick him up.

“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 then came to pick me up from there,” Dairo narrated.

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