*He’s not our man, says Air Force
*DHQ: Video, a fraud, face-saving propaganda
Yemi Adebowale in Lagos; Senator Iroegbu in Abuja; Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Daji Sani in Yola
The terrorist Boko Haram sect in a new video released friday claimed responsibility for the downing of the Nigerian Air Force jet which was declared missing on September 11 by the military authorities while on official duties in Adamawa State.
The video made available to the Associated Press by Boko Haram also showed the beheading of a man who identified himself as the pilot of the missing jet.
But in a swift reaction, the military authorities declared the video a fraud.
Two pilots and an Alpha jet have been missing since September 11.
The release of the video is coming on the heels of the attack on two villages in Michika, Adamawa State by the sect yesterday, during which scores of people were killed.
Also, the Director of Public Relations and Information (DoPRI) NAF, Air Commodore Dele Alonge disowned the purported pilot stating categorically when asked by THISDAY if he was a member of the Air Force, “No, he’s not”.
The controversial video shows a man kneeling in a camouflage vest with his right hand in a sling, with a fighter hovering over him with an ax, which is later used in the beheading.
Speaking in English, the victim identified himself as a Wing Commander in the Nigerian Air Force and said he was on a mission in Kauri area of Borno State when his jet was brought down.
He said: “We were shot down and our aircraft crashed. To this day, I don’t know the whereabouts of my second pilot.”
The video also showed burnt out plane parts with Nigerian military markings, insinuating that apart from being heavily equipped with a large stock of arms and armoury, Boko Haram has the capacity to gun down planes.
The sect is believed to have stolen military hardware from Nigerian military, probably including anti-aircraft weapons.
But the Defence Headquarters, through its Facebook page, faulted the new video saying, “as far as we are concerned, the individual who was appearing in video and claiming to be the leader of the terrorist group was killed in the Konduga battle in September.”
On the burnt-out military plane parts and beheading of the pilot, the DHQ posited: “It is also noteworthy that the air plane said to be mentioned in the video had been missing before he was killed. It should not surprise anybody if the terrorists decide to manipulate pictures, clone another Shekau or upload a pre-recorded video all in a bid to prove that he is invincible.”
Military authorities while speaking to THISDAY yesterday said that the terrorists who are already in disarray are trying desperately to distract the ongoing offensive to clear the North East of insurgency.
According to the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, the military will sustain the tempo of the onslaught to rid the country of the terrorists.
“I can still assure you that no level or amount of barbaric display of bestial atrocities will distract the Nigerian military from sustaining the tempo of ongoing operations to decimate, degrade and bring the remnants of the terrorists already in disarray to due justice.
“The campaign against terror is still recording the expected result in the front. Nigerians should not despair”, Olukolade assured.
Concerning the alleged capturing of the NAF Pilot and shooting down of the missing military Jet, a senior military officer who pleaded for anonymity said the video was false and a mere propaganda tool.
The officer said: “The report or video they displayed did not display or announce the name of the alleged NAF officer or did you see the name anywhere in the write ups.
“Now let us look at what they showcased in the video; did the officer have any injury in the head? Did he break his arms? In fact, looking closely at the picture, there is nothing like injury on him.
“The bottom line is that all those things (the video) are photo-shops in a bid to deceive people and Nigerians. Can Boko Haram succeed in doing that kind of thing and kept quiet for three weeks and not celebrate it?
“Will it not be on the air before even the military declare the air craft missing? Just take time and watch the video with the photographs. When the Nigerian military claimed to have killed that impostor or ‘Shekau’ did they not display his pictures of before and after? Those are the facts that people tend to gloss over. There are facts that makes up for this to be authentic but all these foreign media chose to ignore it.”
The Intelligence Officer recalled that when Boko Haram captured an air force corporal three months ago, they immediately released the video of his beheading with his identity card and information.
“When the so called Air Force personnel claimed (in the Video) he could not see his co-pilot, why did they (the terrorists) not ask him the name of the second officer. They could not even mention the alleged victim’s name. They only said he is a Wing Commander.
“In fact we saw the whole charade and just ignored it because we know that it’s just an antics to follow up on the cooked story of the reincarnated Shekau.”
The AP claimed the video was made available to it “through the usual channels used previously.”