A Nigerian military helicopter carrying very important people in Nigeria has crashed in Bayelsa state.
Reports said a former national security adviser and a state governor in northern Nigeria were on board the ill-fated chopper.
Bayelsa police spokesman Fidelis Odunna confirmed a helicopter had crashed in Ogbia Creek.
The helicopter crashed some minutes after 3:30pm today after a burial event in Okoroba for the father of presidential adviser, Oronto Douglas, now said to be distraught, after the news of the crash.
The helicopter was conveying to Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, the Kaduna State Governor, Yakowa and former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi from the funeral and reportedly crashed into the creeks, bursting into flames and killing all on board.
A statement by the Nigerian navy confirmed the accident and the chopper that crashed giving its name as the Augusta helicopter (Helo 07).
There have been conflicting reports about the casualties. But one source said the two of the governor’s security aides, the Pilot of the Naval Helicopter, his co-pilot, also died.
The other victims are:Dauda Tsoho and Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal and the pilots, Commander Muritala Mohammed Daba and Lt. Adeyemi O. Sowole.
Witnesses said they saw helicopter wobbling in the sky before the fatal crash.
The former Chairman of the Okoroba Community Development Committee (CDC), Comrade Hitler Adunion, who witnessed the incident, told a Nigerian newspaper that the helicopter nosedived into the forest and burst into flame.
Adunion said: “we sighted the chopper wobbling and crashed 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.”
Local residents said several high-profile politicians had traveled to Bayelsa, President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, this weekend for the funeral. Jonathan was not in Bayelsa at the time of the crash, the presidency said.
Like many African countries, Nigeria has a poor air safety record.
Nigeria’s deputy police chief and three other officers were killed when a helicopter crashed in the central city of Jos in March.
In June, a passenger plane crashed into a densely populated part of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, killing 163 people.
Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, 64 was appointed Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Nigeria in July 2005, after the death of the incumbent that same month.
He also became Deputy Governor for Namadi Sambo elected in the April 2007 elections.
He was sworn in as Governor on 20 May 2010, replacing Sambo who had been sworn in as Vice President the day before.
In 2011, Yakowa won his own election as governor of Kaduna state.
Yakowa was born on 1 December 1948 in Fadan Kagoma, Jema’a Local Government, Kaduna State and attended St. Mary’s Secondary School, Fadan Kaje and St. John College, Kaduna, and then was admitted to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to read Social Science.
Yakowa joined the Civil Service of North Central State, serving as Divisional Officer, Secretary in the Military Governor’s Office, and Local Government Sole Administrator.
He rose to Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State civil service, heading the Ministries of Health, Works and Transport.
In 1990, he transferred to the Federal Civil Service until the administration of General Sani Abacha appointed him Commissioner in Kaduna State from 1994 to 1997.
Returning to the Federal Civil Service after this posting, he was Director Joint Services at the Ministry of Defense from February 1997 to August 1998, and then a Director at the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development until 14 June 1999, when he was appointed Permanent Secretary and retired.
His death will be a major political blow for the majority, Christian southern Kaduna people, long held in servitude by their muslim counterparts in the state.