The nation was saved from tragedy on Saturday as the helicopter, Augusta AW139, conveying Vice-President Prof Yemi Osinbajo crash-landed in Kogi State.
The incident occurred in Kabba, where the VP had visited in continuation of his engagement of Nigerians on the ‘Next Level’ re-election plan of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Presidency said the accident would be investigated in line with the protocol of such incidents.
Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, who spoke exclusively with SUNDAY PUNCH, disclosed that an investigation would be immediately set in motion.
Responding to a specific question on whether the incident would be investigated, he said, “We will follow all the necessary due diligence; that will be certainly done. That is the protocol and it is the order of things to happen.”
Asked further to speak on the condition of Osinbajo and other occupants of the ill-fated chopper, Akande said, “He is completely safe. He is actually at a road stop here in Kabba and he is addressing a mammoth crowd. He is safe and everybody is fine. Everybody got out of the chopper safely after that incident.
“The VP has since gone on to address people on the way. This is his second stop in Kabba right now.”
An eyewitness told one of our correspondents that the helicopter managed to land at about 2.22pm at stadium in the town before its propeller suddenly pulled off.
Although the remote cause of the accident was not known as of the time of filing this report, it was learnt that the pilot of the helicopter might have found it difficult to land due to the dusty terrain of the stadium.
Immediately the incident happened, the Vice-President was said to have been immediately evacuated from the scene of the incident into a waiting vehicle and was thereafter driven in convoy with other political office holders to the palace of Obaro of Kabba on a courtesy call.
Akande also issued a formal statement confirming the accident and the safety of Osinbajo.
The statement reads in part, “Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, arrived in Kabba, Kogi State today. His chopper had crash-landed after a landing incident, but everyone is safe.
“Prof Osinbajo is now in Kabba after the incident and continuing his engagements in the state, engaging the people on the ‘Next Level’ plan of the Buhari administration.”
We’re grateful to God, says VP
Meanwhile, Osinbajo has expressed gratitude to God for saving him and the lives of all those aboard the chopper.
Speaking in Kabba, he said, “We are extremely grateful to the Lord for preserving our lives from the incident that just happened. Everyone is safe and no one is maimed. God has kept us safe and alive, delivered us from death so we can do more for our people and country.”
A statement by Akande said Osinbajo spoke at the palace of the Obaro of Kabba.
Caverton Helicopters supports crash probe
A statement by Caverton Helicopters signed by its Managing Director/Accountable Manager, Capt. Josiah Choms, said, “The relevant authorities have been duly informed and an investigation into the incident has commenced.
“We will, of course, support the authorities as required. We wish to reassure the public and our various stakeholders of our unwavering commitment to safety in all of our operations.”
Dickson, Ortom give thanks over Osinbajo
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has urged Nigerians to thank God for sparing the lives of the Vice-President and other passengers in the helicopter that crash-landed in Kabba on Saturday.
He said that the citizenry should be grateful to the Almighty God for preventing what would have been a major tragedy especially at this critical period of heightened political activities in the country.
Dickson said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, Nigerians should regard themselves as members of a united family irrespective of political differences and platforms.
He said, “I join Nigerians to thank the Almighty God for this great deliverance and the prevention of a tragedy that would have plunged this nation into mourning at this critical time.”
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, also thanked God for sparing Osinbajo’s life.
Ortom in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said only God deserved praise for ensuring that the VP and those travelling with him came out of the aircraft unhurt.
PDP, APC react
The Peoples Democratic Party has expressed shock over the crash.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, thanked God for the safety of Osinbajo, members of his entourage and the crew.
Ologbondiyan, however, called for a thorough investigation into “the traumatic incident”.
The All Progressives Congress has also thanked God for saving the lives of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his aides in the helicopter crash.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-onilu, said, “We thank God our Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is safe and sound along with his aides following his involvement in a helicopter accident.”