This Day (Lagos)

15 September 2012

Nigeria: Six Years After, It's Not Quite Dream-Fulfilled for Air Crash Boy Hero

Six years ago, Chia Detimbir earned himself national fame when his discovery of the crash site of a military aircraft in Benue State led to the rescue of a few survivors. Now 20, he rues the many promises to his community left unfulfilled, writes George Okoh

He was that 14-year-old boy who discovered the Nigeria Air force Dornier 228 aircraft which crashed at the Ngokugh Hills, Mbakunu Shangev-Ya village in Kwande Local Government Area, Benue State, six years ago. Now 19 and a graduate of Command Secondary School with hopes of attending the Nigerian Defence Academy, it would seem like dream accomplished for a demure country folk. But Detimbir is sad that the government has failed to meet the promise made to his community for the heroism displayed by its young son. The discovery and swift report of the crash site led to the rescue of some of the victims.

Detimbir told THISDAY in Makurdi that despite the lofty promises by the then Olusegun Obasanjo administration to adequately reward the community nothing has been done till date.

"When the incident happened about six years ago, that fateful Sunday morning," he said, "we moved into the hills to locate the crash sight. It was at the scene that I picked the cell phone of one of the victims and made a call to my father who alerted our church pastor; but before any help came we had ensured that those in the ill-fated plane were rescued.

"Impressed by what we did the federal government came and promised to provide our community with basic social facilities, but my pain is that six years down the line, that promise has not been fulfilled.

"My community is still what it used to be, no roads, water and other social amenities; even the tourists centre that government promised to build in the community has not been built".

"It was all promises because if you get there, there is nothing to show; government should endeavor to keep it's promises to the people to serve as encouragement and motivation to it's citizens", Chia stressed.

He however disclosed that the state government kept its promise to bankroll his post primary education adding that after coming out in flying colours he has already applied to the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, which he hopes would help him realize his life's ambition to be commissioned into the Nigerian Army.

On Sunday, September 17th, 2006, a Nigerian Air force plane, Dornier 228, conveying seniour military personnel to Obudu for a conference crashed at Ngokugh Hills, Mbakunu Shangev-Ya village in Kwande local government area of Benue State killing 13 of the officers while five of them were rescued courtesy of a telephone call from the crash site by Detimbir who led an initial rescue operation that saved the survivors.

The aircraft was flying the senior officers from Abuja to Obudu for the Chief of Army Staff Retreat on "The Future of the Military in the Next Decade" when it crashed 18 nautical miles from its destination.

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