SaharaReporters has reliably learnt that Nigeria’s Information Minister, Labaran Maku, lied when he said he was scheduled to be a passenger on the ill-fated helicopter that killed Governor Patrick Yakowa, former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi (ret.), two pilots and two aides.
Our sources told Saharareporters that Mr. Maku had left the venue of the funeral more than an hour before the crashed helicopter lifted off. The sources insisted that Mr. Maku was already in Port Harcourt when passengers in a helicopter rented by ThisDay publisher, Nduka Obaigbena, spotted the burning chopper. The passengers in Mr. Obaighena’s helicopter brought the tragic news to Mr. Maku.
The Information Minister had claimed in an Aso Rock press briefing that he was invited to join General Azazi and Governor Yakowa but that he "hesitated" and stayed back. He said he watched Mr. Azazi's chopper leave.
Sources told Saharareporters that Mr. Maku was with Ben Bruce-Murray, Timi Alaibe, Umaru Sanni and three others as Governor Yakowa and Mr. Azazi went to Mr. Oronto Douglas’ residence for lunch.
It is unclear why the Information Minister chose to lie about nearly perishing in the crashed chopper. But an Abuja-based government source told SaharaReporters that Mr. Maku’s yarn was in keeping with the minister’s attitude. “He appears determined to misinform the nation on many issues. He is so committed as a misinformer that the line between what is true or what is a lie is easily blurred.”
Another source, a politician, suggested that Mr. Maku might have lied to undermine a growing conspiracy theory amongst Nigerians that the crash was part of an intentional plot to eliminate the former NSA and the Kaduna State governor.
Since the crash that claimed the lives of the six passengers, several Nigerian public officials and movie stars who attended the funeral of Mr. Oronto Douglas’ father have claimed that they were close to being passengers on the doomed helicopter.