How Beheaded Nigerian AirForce Pilot, Killed 63 Boko Haram Terrorists
Friends and colleagues of Wing Commander Friends and colleagues of Wing Commander Chimda Hedima, who was reportedly beheaded by Boko Haram, have given a vivid account of how the Air Force pilot spent his last days.
Hedima, who was showered with praises by thousands of Nigerians on Saturday, reportedly kept 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, a leader of the sect, was still alive.
This came a few days after the military’s Director of Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said Shekau had been killed early September in Kodunga, Borno State.
The military had also shown photographs that it claimed showed the corpse of Shekau.
But Shekau, in the video, described as propaganda the claim by the Defence Headquarters that he had been killed. While claiming responsibility for shooting down an Air Force jet, the video also showed the beheading of the pilot.
Hedima’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.
“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.
“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.”
While the military on Saturday said it was still studying the video and would talk at the appropriate time, Nigerians and family members have continued to pay tributes to Hedima.
His 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.
“Together, with your team, you played your part. You played it well.
“We are proud of you. To the team, I say we must carry on as our oga has done his bit. He died a hero, knowing that he died for his country. A soldier. He remained true to his calling till the last breath.
“To Boko Haram terrorists, we are saddened and sickened by your madness as it has no place in any civilised society. Your days are numbered. We are determined more than ever to treat you as the cancer that you are. Rest in peace my oga, friend, colleague and brother,” he said.
Another Nigerian, Aliyu Mohammed Tsadu, who referred to Hedima as a brother, said the murdered pilot’s bravery was second to none.
According to him, Hedima is a national hero.
He said, “C. S Hedima, where do I start? You were a brother, a friend and we belong to the same ‘Ex-jam’ family. Your bravery even at the point of your death was second to none. May God almighty receive your soul and give your family the fortitude to bear this loss. You died a hero and a gallant soldier. Rest on, brother.”
For Hadiza Sunama-Pindar, Hedima’s bravery will never be in vain. She said, “Hedima my brother and kinsman, may your bravery never be in vain and may the sacrifice of your life soon bring to an end to the reign of terror that has bedevilled our homestead. Rest well my brother and our hero. Good night as you sleep.”
Other Nigerians called on the Federal Government to immortalise Edema while also ensuring that an end is brought to the Boko Haram menace.
One of them, Zubby Okonkwo wrote, “Your sacrifice for this nation will not be forgotten in a hurry. Even if the present crop of leadership fails to recognise you, the Nigerian masses do. Our hearts go to your loved ones you left behind and may God comfort them. You participated in the struggle to eradicate our land from these brigands of evil. “
Similarly, Christy Iyefu on urged the military to give the slain pilot a befitting burial. “Rest in peace; may God grant your family the fortitude to bear your loss. Salute to a gallant hero. I pray the officers would give you and other fallen comrades a befitting funeral.
“You need to rest in a military cemetery with your name on it. Your epitaph should read, ‘He took 68 enemies with him!’So you’re never forgotten,” she said.
Similarly, Oguru Samuel who commented on the death of the soldier said Hedima was an irreplaceable icon who gave a new meaning to bravery while Obinna Nwachukwu, urged the Federal Government to give Hedima a post-humous award .
Nwachukwu said, “As we mourn this hero who lost his precious life trying to defend the oneness of our country, I suggest that a post-humous award should be given to him. Government should employ his next of kin and above all, a block at any Air force college around the country should be named after him.”
Adding her voice to the tributes, another Nigerian, Pamela Ogbui posted on the Facebook page, “A gallant soldier you were; a great patriot never to be forgotten. We will forever be proud of you.”
“My respect to this legend; we will never forget you. You were a soldier’s soldier. You knew you were going to suffer a brutal death but you never flinched and you spoke with those cowards like a man. I hope Nigerians will learn from you. You are my mentor. Adieu great one,” another Facebook user, Chieff Henryabah said.
When one of our correspondents contacted Olukolade on Saturday for his comment on the identified slain pilot and his missing co-pilot, Olukolade said the military had no comment to make.
“The military would speak on the issue at the appropriate time,” he said.
Olukolade had told Sunday Punch on Friday that the military would soon end all activities of Boko Haram.
“We believe we will terminate their activities very soon. By the time they see some devastation around them, all these boastings will stop, and that will come very soon,” he said.
A highly-placed security source, who confided in one of our correspondents on Friday also said the military believed the Shekau in the latest video was not the one that was killed.
Pleading anonymity, the source said once the military was done with studying the videos, it would go after the man claiming to be Shekau.
He said, “Studying the videos is part of the manhunt for the man claiming to be Shekau. The military authorities believe that Shekau has been killed and we will get the person claiming to be him (Shekau.)”
Also, the police said they were working with the military and other security agencies to frustrate every planned attack by Boko Haram insurgents within the country.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu said, “We are aware of the devices of the insurgents and we have evolved measures to combat them. Working with the military, the Police are doing everything necessary to make sure every part of this country is secure.”
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