How beheaded Air Force pilot killed 63 terrorists

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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