Diepreye, the wife of the Nigerian Air Force pilot, Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob, who died in the January 2, 2019, Mi-35M helicopter crash, has said that she learnt of his death on a WhatsApp status update.
The couple, who had their wedding on December 8, 2018, were married for three weeks before tragedy struck.
In a telephone conversation with Punch’s correspondent, Diepreye said the WhatsApp status update was that of her husband’s colleague, who was unaware that she had his number.
She added that the commander visited her later to inform her of the crash.
Perowei was one of the five-man combat crew, who died when the Mi-35M attack helicopter crashed during an operation against Boko Haram insurgents on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
It was reported that the helicopter crew were providing close air support for the ground troops from the 145 Battalion, Damasak in Borno State, when the crash occurred around 7.30pm.
The helicopter was one of the two attack aircraft procured from Russia in February 2017 and inducted into the Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East.
The deceased, who were identified as Flight Lieutenant Perowei Jacob (pilot); Flight Lieutenant Kaltho Kilyofas (co-pilot); Sergeant Auwal Ibrahim (flight technician); Lance Corporal Adamu Nura (gunner); and Aircraft Man Meshack Ishmael (gunner), are to be buried today (Tuesday) at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja.
Diepreye said she did not see the death of her husband coming, having just been married to him.
She stated, “My husband left for the trip five days after we got married and since he left, I’ve been alone. We spoke before he took off on the trip. When I tried his number at night, it was not going through and I switched off my phone afterwards. The following morning, I tried reaching him again, but it still was not going through.
“I went on WhatsApp and I saw the picture of my husband and his co-pilot with the caption: ‘Rest in Peace’ on the status update of one of his colleagues, who didn’t know that I had his WhatsApp number. When I saw it, I was so shocked that I threw my phone away in disbelieve. I picked it up again and went through it. Just as I was about running out of the house, the commander arrived to confirm my fear.”
While relieving the times they shared together, the Bayelsa State indigene said she would miss the kind-hearted man her husband was, adding that being married to him was an honour.
Diepreye stated, “We had been together for two years before we got married. Aside from his life as a military officer, my husband was a very jovial person. He was free, open-hearted, kind and loving; not just to me, but to everybody around him.
“He did not like to see unhappy people around him. He was the kind of person that even if it was the last dime on him and someone else needed money; he would give it out even if it was not convenient for him.
“I will miss his jokes. There was a way we communicated, which was unique to the two of us; I will miss that. I will also miss the way he related with people. To me, he was the best pilot I knew; so, I never put the risk of his job to heart coupled with the fact that we just got married; I did not see his death coming.
“It was an honour to be married to him; I am proud of being married to him as the man of my dream. He affected many lives positively and people have been putting in so much efforts to support me. I want my husband to be remembered for dying for the country; he died a hero. I want the world to remember that and accord him and the other soldiers due respect.”