The remains of the two pilots and three crewmen of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) who died on January 2 while carrying out counterinsurgency operations in the North East have been laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery, Abuja.

At the funeral service attended by family, friends and colleagues of the fallen souldiers, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, said the death of the officers rather than demoralise personnel of the NAF, would spur them to expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in the country.

He said: “The loss of these courageous and professional gentlemen must spur the rest of us not only to rededicate ourselves in the service of our nation but also to resolve that we expose and fight all agents of destabilisation and extremism in our society.

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“We must throw in everything we have to this fight to ensure that our departed colleagues did not die in vain. We must do everything possible to bring the ongoing insurgency in the North East to a speedy end that is favourable to our nation.

“I am indeed deeply touched and saddened by the price, which our patriots had to pay in this needless fight against insurgency. Our departed heroes fought that we live in a safe and secure Nigeria, where the freedom of worship and association of one and all are guaranteed under one indivisible nation,” he said.

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While sympathising with the immediate families of the deceased officers, the NAF and all Nigerians over the loss, Abubakar said: “The families of the deceased, I know Nigerians everywhere join me in praying for you as you shoulder this heavy burden of grief.

“May time ease the soaring pain of today and please note that the entire nation shares this grief with you. There can be no better consolation than the knowledge that the nation grieves with you on the loss of these amiable and patriotic Nigerians, who paid the supreme price in the course of their duty to the fatherland.

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“As we conclude the interment of Jacob, Kilyofas, Ibrahim, Nura and Ishmael, we fervently pray for all our departed colleagues who have paid the supreme price in the course of ensuring the integrity of our dear nation. As Nigerians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of these five gentlemen and those before them. May God continue to bless them and keep our land prosperous and free.”