An aide of the Governor of Kaduna, Patrick Yakowa, has confirmed the death of his boss in the Bayelsa Helicopter crash, Reuters has reported. Mr. Yakowa and a former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, are among those believed to have died in the Naval Helicopter crash.
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The Bayelsa State Police spokesperson, Fidelis Odunna, also confirmed a helicopter had crashed in Ogbia Creek, but gave no details of the causalities.
Other occupants are believed to be aides to the dignitaries. The dignitaries travelled to attend the burial ceremony of the father of a presidential aide, Oronto Douglas. The burial of Obereba Douglas was scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Okoroba, Bayelsa State.
Airport authorities are also yet to get details of the crash even as rescue efforts are ongoing.
The Ministry of Aviation is yet to confirm the crash or casualties.
The Minister’s spokesman, Joe Obi, did not pick his calls as officials struggle to get details of the crash.
The Development of the STORY:
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 helicopter was one of several helicopters that some well-connected people to the funeral.
Others in the ill-fated crash: a top politician in Kaduna Dudas Tsoho, Azazi’s orderly, former national security advisers NSA, General Owoye Azazi were said to be in the naval aircraft at the time of the crash, the pilot and his co-pilot were said to be on board the helicopter when it crashed.
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.
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."