Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser Andrew Owoye Azazi apparently died in a helicopter that crashed today in Bayelsa State.
Governor Yakowa and Mr. Azazi, a retired military general who served as chief security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, were among passengers in the ill-fated helicopter.
Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) had earlier indicated that the agency had activated a search for a crashed helicopter.
The crashed chopper was carrying “some major political figures.” The identity of any other passengers in the ill-fated chopper is yet to be confirmed.
Governor Yakowa and Mr. Azazi were among many political figures who reportedly attended the burial of the father of senior presidential aide Oronto Douglas. The funeral event took place in the Nembe area of Bayelsa State earlier today. SaharaReporters learnt that the crashed helicopter was one of several helicopters that some well-connected people to the funeral.
The crash comes on the heels of a plane crash on October 25, 2012 that has left Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State brain-damaged. Mr. Suntai was moved to a hospital in Germany where he remains in poor shape, unable to recognize his visitors or to speak.
UPDATE: Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Authoritty (NEMA) says it has activated a a search party to look for a crashed chopper.
Helicopter reportedly carrying a politician has crashed in Bayelsa state. Saharareporters cannot immediately confirm the identity of the crashed chopper or the passengers on board.
Several politicians reportedly attended the burial of the father of presidential aide Oronto Douglasin Nembe area of Bayesa today. The missing helicopter is one the several helicopters that transported dignitaries to the event.
UPDATE-2: Six important personalities including Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, former national security advisers NSA, General Owoye Azazi were said to be in the naval aircraft at the time of the crash.
Others in the ill-fated crash: a top politician in Kaduna Dudas Tsoho, Azazi’s orderly, and the pilot and his co-pilot were said to be on board the helicopter when it crashed.
UPDATE-3: Kaduna state commissioner for Information, Saidu Adamu has said he cannot confirm if Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state is dead or not as he has not received any official notification from Bayelsa, more than three hours after a helicopter in which he is reported to have been travelling in, crashed.
He however confirmed that the governor departed for Bayelsa via port Harcourt on Saturday morning for the funeral of the father of presidential aide, Chief oronto Douglas, and like many other people, arrangements were made to fly by helicopter to the venue of the funeral in Nembe.
However, following the confirmation of the crash of a Naval helicopter around 4pm today, Gov. Yakowa and former NSA, Gen Owoye Azazi (rdt) have been reported by several sources to have been passengers aboard the ill-fated craft.
Earlier, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, Yushau Shuaib, said, “NEMA has activated its search and rescue team in collaboration with other response agencies for a helicopter that was suspected to have crashed in the Bayelsa axis.”
EYEWITNESS RECALLS: Eyewitnesses are quoted as having said the helicopter was sighted in the sky wobbling before the fatal crash. The time of the crash was estimated to be 3.30pm.
The former Chairman of the Okoroba Community Development Committee (CDC), Comrade Hitler Adunion, who witnessed the incident, says that the helicopter nosedived into the forest and burst into flames.
Adunion said: “We sighted the chopper wobbling and crash-landed. By the time we got to the scene, it was in flames. We tried to put out the flame but it was difficult. We saw the roasted bodies of those inside.”