Nigeria’s chief of army staff Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru has died in an air crash while on an official trip to Kaduna State, multiple media reports said.
Attahiru was appointed in January.
Although the Nigerian Army is yet to make any official statement on Attahiru’s death, Nigerian Air Force confirmed one of its aircraft crashed on Friday near Kaduna International Airport.
“The immediate cause of the crash is still being ascertained,” Air Force spokesman Edward Gabkwet said.
Chief of Army Staff Attahiru was only appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in January as part of a shakeup of the top military command to better fight surging violence and a more than decade-long jihadist insurgency.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) is the highest ranking military officer of the Nigerian Army. The position is often occupied by the most senior commissioned officer appointed by the President of Nigeria. The current COAS is Attahiru Ibrahim.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 appointed new service chiefs, finally letting go of the Chief of Defence Chief, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, after the four had spent five years and five months in office.
Attahiru served as the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, before he was removed from the position barely nine months after he was appointed in 2017.
During his tenure as the Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, the Theatre recorded many successes against the insurgents following concerted efforts of troops in the newly-launched Operation DEEP PUNCH 2 and Operation RUWAN WUTA in Sambisa forest
Some of the operations he led resulted in the killing of two key Boko Haram commanders, Abdu Kawuri and Abubakar Benishek, at Alafa in the Bama Local Government Area of Borno State.
His redeployment followed the deadliest attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on Biu town in Borno where at least 18 people were killed and 52 others seriously injured.
General Attahiru was redeployed to Nigerian Army Headquarters as Deputy Chief of Policy and Plans.
He was former General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu.