By Kingsley Omonobi

Abuja—A Nigerian Air Force pilot, Flt Lt. Ebiakpo Chapele, who died during a combat mission in the Northeast was finally buried last Thursday in Abuja.

Sources disclosed that DNA verification was done to confirm that the remains were that of Chapele, following which the family was able to have closure.

Flt Lt. Chapele was buried with honours at the Military Cemetery in  Abuja.

The ceremony was private, with only colleagues, friends and family members attending, as it was not publicly announced by the Air Force.

“Today we finally bury a son, a beloved brother, Uncle and husband,” the pilot’s sister, Tracy Chapele, said on Twitter.

“A patriot who since he was taught about Gowon/Ironsi in Primary 6, insisted we start calling him ‘Major’ cos he’d serve Nigeria. I salute your courage little bro,” Tracy, a presenter on Wazobia FM, added.

The two Flight Lieutenants were conducting a mission in support of the counter-insurgency operations on March 31 2021, when their aircraft disappeared from radar and went down in the famous Sambisa forest, a former stronghold of the Boko Haram terror group.

At the time of the incident, the Air Force had stated that an “extensive search and rescue effort” was going on, by ground and air.

Reports had indicated that the body of Chapele and his aircraft were missing before his body was discovered.

A year later, on March 26 it was announced that soldiers on a clearance/fighting patrol as part of a large-scale offensive in Sambisa named ‘Operation Desert Sanity,’ discovered the wreckage of an Air Force Alpha Jet with the designation NAF 475, Chapele and Abolarinwa’s plane.

The Air Force noted at the time that further explorations were “ongoing.”

Contacted on the development, Director, NAF Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet confirmed that the burial was held.

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