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Buhari Cries Out, Says, Miscreants Downed Our Fighter Jet

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It was as if Flt. Lt. Abayomi Dairo, the lucky pilot of the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) who escaped death when his fighter jet was shot down by bandits in Zamfara State on July 18 knew what I was going through when he wondered aloud in his testimony whether it was appropriate to refer to people who shot down the Alpha jet as bandits.

I was in a meeting on Wednesday where we could not agree on whether there indeed was any dichotomy between bandits and terrorists. As a matter of fact, the  debate raged on until the majority carried the day. That was after agreeing almost unanimously that bandits were the junior brothers of terrorists. In other words, that bandits were like pick pockets while terrorists were the armed robber version of them.

But Flt. Lt. Dairo helped me make up my mind on Thursday when I came across what was reported as his testimony in an online platform, Salone GIST. Although the pilot referred to those who shot down the jet  as “bandits”  several times in the testimony, the fact that he wondered aloud at all whether calling them bandits was not oversimplifying the issue, is sufficient. I guess he continued to refer to them as bandits to be politically correct. I know he must have come across bandits several times to be able to know that those who had the capacity to bring down a fighter jet cannot pass for mere bandits.

“I will still share my testimonies but truly, God ordered my steps, the bandits (meanwhile they are ruthless like Boko Haram, I dunno why we still call them bandits) were more interested in capturing me than shooting me (even at point-blank range), eventually they got neither…”

I rejoice with Dairo and congratulate him for his lucky escape. As a Yoruba man, he knows he is Ayorunbo (someone who has literally been to heaven and returned). Many of his colleagues have gone through similar circumstances like his; that he is alive to tell the story is what makes the difference. And, if as he claimed, the bandits who shot down his jet really wanted him captured alive, it is because they knew the benefits of such. So, in a sense, Nigeria too is lucky that Dairo escaped only with injuries. If he had been captured, only God can tell whether he would not have told his captors more than they would have asked him. It is only in rare cases that captured soldiers do not sing like canaries. Many others would take bullets with their buttocks! Only the Abubakar Shekaus of this world would rather commit suicide than be captured by the enemy. As they say, when someone spits on the floor and quickly rubs it off with his foot, it is because he knows what spittle could be used for (eni to tu’to si’le to fi ese pa’ re’ mo ohun ti won nfi ito se ni). Shekau knew he too was merciless with his war captives and so quickly put two plus two together to take his own life rather than be captured and tortured to sing by his captors.

But, beyond the celebration of Dairo’s lucky escape is a somewhat more fundamental issue that bothers on the mutual distrust and suspicion that have become the hallmarks of governance in Nigeria, especially in recent times.

Many of the people trying to make a distinction between banditry and terrorism on the downed jet are doing so not for the fun of it but to drive home a germane point, to wit; that the Federal Government would not want to refer to the people who brought down the military jet as terrorists because the government knows the consequences of such declaration. They argue that if that had happened in the south, particularly the south east, truckloads of soldiers in battle gears would have been sent there to teach the people a lesson that what they had done was rascality taken too far. That they cannot dare the state with such audacity and expect a mere slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile, we seem to have heard the last of the matter because, as usual, time is expected to heal the wounds. The same way government has refused to keep to its promise of prosecuting some powerful Nigerians suspected to be financing the terror war. The same way we have not heard anything again on the owner of the helicopter that was alleged to be ferrying food and arms to terrorists.

We do not even seem to be in a hurry to find out how it is easy for combat jets that we procured with so much money to be brought down or to crash. Agreed, fighter jets can be brought down, but how frequently? When would enough be enough to make us set up inquiry as to why at least four of them had either crashed or brought down in a spate of seven months?

Meanwhile, who brought down the jet, bandits or terrorists? I think they must be miscreants, as an online commentator suggested. Bandits brought down a fighter jet that the NAF itself admitted “came under intense enemy fire which led to its crash in Zamfara.” This government has every reason to gag the press. They want us to call dog monkey even when we can clearly see it is a dog.

There is God o.

Lady Decency
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