Air Force Denies Beheading Of Its Pilot By Boko Haram

The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has dismissed the claim of the beheading of its pilot by Boko Haram terrorists as a cheap and senseless propaganda intended to cover up the killing of the Abubakar Shekau’s impostor, Mohammed Bashir, by the Nigerian troops.

Speaking through its director of public relations and information, Air Commodore Dele Alonge, the Air Force said that the claim in the new video issued by the terrorist group was not only false but also very weak such that anyone who took a closer view of it with a good sense of analysis, would surely have every cause to doubt it.

A new Boko Haram video showed the beheading of a man who was identified as the pilot of a missing Nigerian Air Force jet and burnt out parts of a plane which it claimed to be among 10 that it had gunned down.  The video also purports to feature Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, a man Nigeria’s military insists that had been killed, denying claims of his death and stressing that no one can kill him before his time.

The video was made available to the Associated Press through the same channels used previously and seems to show the same man claiming to be Shekau. In the latest video, Shekau said the insurgency group was acting in accordance with Sharia law in areas under their control.

Examples of punishments are shown, including the stoning to death of a man apparently accused of adultery; the amputation of the hand of a young man accused of theft and the flogging of a man and what appears to be a girl covered in the hijab.

Two weeks ago, the military said it had killed an impostor of Abubakar Shekau, who had posed in the sect’s videos. Meanwhile, friends and family members of the allegedly beheaded pilot, Chimda Hedima, have continued to shower him with praises for keeping a dignified composure in the face of death.

Before reporting the beheading of Hedima, French news agency, Agence France-Presse, had reported that it was in possession of a Boko Haram video that showed that Abubakar Shekau, leader of the sect, was still alive.

The pilot’s colleagues on different social media on Saturday said Hedima, who was born in 1975, crashed the aircraft into an area where Boko Haram militants were and killed at least 63 of the insurgents. On the Facebook page of the Nigerian Army Support Group, his friends wrote, “It is with deep regret that we announce the death of a true Nigerian hero, Wing Commander Chimda Hedima. This man was a hero of the highest order. On September 11, 2014, a company of Nigerian Army soldiers attempted to overrun a Boko Haram position in Borno. Due to the low altitude, the plane suffered significant damage from the terrorists’ gunfire.”

It went on to say, “Wing Commander Hedima and his partner realised that they were going to crash. They, instead of hurriedly parachuting to safety within Nigerian controlled territory, chose to embark on a mission to destroy as many terrorists and their weapons as possible. They parachuted out at the last minute but not before ensuring that their plane slammed into a column of terrorists in which 63 Boko Haram members were killed as a result of their bravery. Wing Commander Hedima was captured. On September 12, he was killed.”



    Their message said further, “He chose Nigeria, he chose all of us. We cannot forget him. Please share his story. His name should be known by everyone. Rest in peace Commander, we are grateful. May you find eternal peace.” Hedima’s brother, Parry Hedima, wrote on his Facebook page that Hedima’s shoes were too big to fill. He said, “There is a big shoe to fill. Lord I need your feet.”

    One of the late pilot’s friends, Musa Salmanu, also described Hedima as a hero.

    “Not knowing where to start, I will start from the end. The last time we met was some weeks back in Yola. As always, you were full of life, humility and relaxed as if you didn’t feel the weight of the responsibility placed by destiny on your young shoulders. The country expected much from you. In fact, the survival of the country depended on your bravery and courage. What a responsibility for such a young soul to bear. You didn’t disappoint, you delivered.”

    The military, however, said on Saturday that it was still studying the video and would issue a statement at the appropriate time.

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