The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Friday dismissed claims by terror group, Boko Haram, that it gunned down the missing Alpha jet which disappeared from radar on Wednesday while on an operational mission to Maiduguri, Borno State.
Boko Haram had through a viral video clip claimed responsibility for downing the aircraft.
But the Director of Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet dismissed the claim, saying that the viral video could be clips from a previous incident.
He pointed out that the video was fraught with inconsistencies that established it was fake, adding that the lush vegetation in one of the videos suggest it was not in the Northeast.
According to him, “We have seen some videos but there is nothing that has proven that the aircraft in those clips belongs to us, or have you seen a Nigerian Air Force aircraft number or the body of Air Force pilot or have you seen any Air Force uniform. Until we get all these details straightened out, we are not going to go into speculation.
“That video could have been shot somewhere. I have seen four videos so far. One of them has lush vegetation in the background, and I wonder where they have such vegetation in the Northeast. Unless they did something and they are releasing the clips bit by bit, we are waiting.
“Except we have evidence, because like I said, these persons have families and you cannot go their wives, parents or wards, you must bring concrete evidence. There must be something to show.”
Boko Haram militant group had claimed it shot down a Nigerian fighter jet that went missing earlier this week and which the air force said may have crashed, according to a militant video released on Friday.
The Alpha light attack jet was on a mission to support troops fighting militants in northeastern Borno State when it lost radar contact on Wednesday, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said.
Nigeria’s military have been battling jihadists in the northeast of the country for more than a decade and have recently been fighting them in their stronghold in Sambisa forest in Borno state.
The video was released on a Boko Haram social media channel showing a militant standing on what the group claims was the wreckage of the jet. It showed the Nigerian flag and number NAF 475 on its fuselage.
“Nigeria air force jet fighter… was sent to Sambisa to fight the Mujahideen,” the militant said.
The Air force said on Friday that the jet may have crashed. It said the cause of the crash and the whereabouts of the two crew onboard were unknown.
“Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing by NAF surveillance aircraft as well as NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops on ground,” its statement said.
“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.”
The NAF spokesperson promised to issue a comprehensive statement on the false claim of the terrorist group shortly.