Detimbir Chia, the 14-year-old boy who discovered the site of a Nigerian air force jet that crashed in 2006, has joined the army.
On Saturday, Chia graduated from the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) after spending four years, and was decorated as a 2nd lieutenant, the lowest rank of a commissioned officer in the Nigerian army.
One of the most gloomy moments in the history of Nigeria was on September 17, 2006, when an aircraft conveying 15 senior military officers and three crew members crashed into a hill in a remote village in Kwande local government area of Benue.
The officers were on their way to Obudu cattle ranch in Cross River, to attend a retreat when the Dornier 228-212, crashed.
The plane had on board eight major-generals, two brigadier-generals, two wing commanders, one lieutenant colonel, and three crew members.
Chia, who was working at his family farm not far from the scene of the incident, called his father with the phone of one of the victims.
Thirteen lives were lost in the tragic incident, with five survivors.
Late Patrick Owoye Azazi, then chief of army staff under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, had asked Chai what he wanted to become.
He had replied, “a soldier”, and Azazi promised to help him secure admission into the NDA.
Azazi was said to have missed death as he decided not to go with the senior officers when he found out that the plane was already full. He would later die in a helicopter crash on December 15, 2012.
In Sept 2006 a NAF Plane crashed in Benue killing 13 officers on board. 5 survived after 14 yr old Detimbir Chia found the crash site and called for help.
He was asked what he’d like to be. He said ‘Soldier’.
Today Detimbir is getting decorated as a 2nd Lieutenant.#TrueHeropic.twitter.com/H7gcIruGSi
— Callings (@CollinsUma) October 6, 2018
The officers who died in the crash J.O. Adesunloye, S.O Otubu, J.O Agboola, S.M Lemu, A.N Bamali, P.M Haruna, J.T.U Ahmedu and B. Duniya, all major-generals.
Others were Y.J Braimah, M.B Bawa, and wing commanders O. Balogun. EO Adekunle (pilot) and lieutenant-colonel N.A Mohammed, brigadier-generals.
Luther Agwai, then chief of defence staff, said the 13 officers represented some of the best in the Nigerian military.
During the 10th year remembrance anniversary of the fallen heroes, Agwai said the Nigeria may have surmounted its insurgency crises if the officers were alive.
“I can make bold to say that if they were around, may be some of the challenges that we are facing today wouldn’t have gotten to the level that they reached”, Agwai said in 2016.
“Their death up to their burial was one of the most trying, most difficult time I ever had in my career. And if you remember my military career, I have been involved in Sierra-Leone, Dafur, but all what I saw there did not traumatize me like what happened to these people because these were officers that I knew personally.”