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Crashed Naval Helicopter was used for Unmandated Burial Duties | Helicopter Crashed on the 15th Trip of the Day

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As the Nigerian Navy commences investigations into the cause of the crash of the Augusta 109 Naval Helicopter which crashed in Bayelsa State on Saturday, killing all six people on board, some revelations have raised concerns that the crash could have been avoided.

The Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa, ex-National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi (retd.); and four others died in the crash.

A senior naval officer told Punch that the helicopter was on its 15th trip for the day when the accident occurred. The aircraft had been shuttling between Okoroba and Port Harcourt, carrying guests to and fro the venue of the burial of the father of President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Oronto Douglas, in Okoroba.

The helicopter was made available for the use of guests at the funeral. One thing I can say is that it was going on its 15th trip when it crashed. I cannot say whether this could affect the performance of the helicopter,” the naval source said. The source also said that investigators would also look into the possibility that the aircraft had been “overstretched” for the day.

In related news, Nigerians have questioned why a military transporter, under civil conditions, was deployed as a funeral ferry for non-military passengers. a former member of the House of Representatives, raised the same concern.

According to Premium Times, Dino Melaye, a former member of the House of Representatives, raised the same concern.“Who authorized the use of Nigerian Navy helicopter for kabukabu operation?” Mr. Melaye asked, comparing the shuttles made by the ill-fated helicopter with a city taxi runs. “Carrying non-Naval officers for a burial is not official.”

However, the Nigerian Navy, at a press conference on Monday, said that the helicopter was air- worthy. Spokesman for the Navy, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor told Punch that the crashed helicopter had more than 80 flight hours before its next scheduled routine maintenance, having covered 1, 704 flight hours. He said that the aircraft just had its last scheduled routine maintenance on November 19, 2012 and was cleared for operations on November 20, 2012 by technical support engineers. He also added that the captain in command had flown more than 800 hours, while the co-pilot had flown over 300 hours.

The Nigerian Navy also defended the use of the helicopter during the funeral of Pa Douglas, saying the naval helicopters were employed in “multi-role military operations.” These roles, it said, included surveillance, logistic support at sea, search and rescue and medical evacuation.

An accident investigating team has been set up to probe the immediate and remote cause of the crash. Members of the team include aircraft investigation specialists, Augusta Westland (the manufacturers of the aircraft) and other aviation regulatory agencies as provided for by extant regulations.

It is hoped the cause of the crash would be found soon and the results would help Nigeria avoid such fatal accidents in the future.

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

17 Comments

  1. Khafeel

    December 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Whatever the revelations might be, I stongly think that the ultimate lesson from this disaster is that we take more caution as a naton, in all of our dealings.
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  2. ArabianPrincess

    December 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

    It saddens me that the aides and co-pilots in numerous posts have been referred to as “four others”. These people have a family too and they are grieving. Has any Government official visited their homes and the families they left behind? I ask this question as I have heard no news concerning that. In as much as I don’t wish former Governor Yakowa or General Azazi dead, I can only but imagine that if any of the aides or pilots were related to me either by blood or marriage, is that how they will be in the background as ‘four others’ and then life goes on…

    • Lawal, AbdulFattah

      December 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I AM ALSO OF YOUR OPINION, FOUR OTHERS IMAGINE THAT STATEMENT. REMEMBER WHAT IT TOOK BEFORE THE AIDES OF A GOVERNOR FLOWN ABROAD FOR TREATMENT COULD ALSO BE FLOWN ABROAD? THAT IS OUR COUNTRY, OUR CHARACTER, OUR ATTITUDE AND OUR VALUES. MAY OUR CREATOR HELP US, AMIN.

  3. *sad face*

    December 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

    *four others*….smh

  4. nene

    December 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    like i said before it did not crash. they were assassinated, Azazi was the target. Jonathan is also on the target list and i don’t know if he’ll survive his tenure. things have been happening in this country since independence, and they are still happening in this “democracy” or puppet govt. as i call it. once the puppet masters are not satisfied with their puppets…..look at what happened in kenya with two ministers who died the same way as Azazi and Yakowa. people need to read more to understand the way the world works. what you see is not always what it seems. i rest my case.RIP to the innocent souls. and there is no evidence of Muslims rejoicing, it’s all part of the conspiracy.

  5. Solly

    December 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Typical of Nigerian government, im sure using the helicopter for non-official purposes was no big deal to them, So because it caused a crash, It becomes a bad thing.Stop shifting the blame and deceiving yourselves
    My heart goes out to the families and friends of these precious ones we lost.

  6. isaid!!

    December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I totally agree with all those that commented so far. I cant imagine my brother/husband/cousin being the pilot and crew in that ill fated helicopter and not a word of consolation from anyone while being referred to as “others”.

  7. mereal

    December 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    My thoughts exactly!……’Four others” as if dey are not human beings

  8. paul Eslon Yuama

    December 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    allah ya sa mutuwa hutu a garesu amin ,allah yasa sun huta amin daga paul Eslon Yurama , demsa L G A adamaawa nigeria but in abuja nigeria

  9. Bode

    December 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    It shows the kind of mentality we have as Black people! The gov and the general are more important than these so called ” four others” ??? What a Nation! Did the president of Nigeria even give a speech after the Aluu 4 ? I bet he has given a speech at the death of this I’ve and general friends of his or is about to. Sad how Nigerians also keep silent in the face of this obvious disregard of the people!

  10. paul Eslon Yuama

    December 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    ku huta lafiya

  11. anonymous

    December 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    i was gonna say the exact same thing. do those “four others” not have names? common! that’s the height of insensitivity.

  12. Peaches

    December 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    What a tradegy in general….four other??? (They are humans too and they have names) who are they? A member of my mum’s family was the Pilot, but nobody knew this until we went online and we were informed. It is absolutely disgusiting that family members get to know about this in such way. May God give comfort and peace to all hurting family and friends during this time.

  13. TruthTeller

    December 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I’ve been ranting about the “four others” since the day of the crash. They deserve some respect too. I pray for comfort for the families of the ‘six’ people who lost their lives.

  14. Inebaby

    December 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    So sad! That was the first thing that came to my mind when I read through the newspapers, as if the pilots and aides are nobody! Really Sad!!!! May their souls rest in perfect peace, Amen.

  15. Idak

    December 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I pray that God Himself will comfort the family of the “four others”. As for the governor and the General, it is obvious the govt and their fellow elite are already comforting their families.

  16. Olebunne chibueze

    December 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

    It is a pity in Nigeria that top government officials abuse the power this come to question why should military jets be use on noon military activities are they no shoppers for rent by any private air operator this is purely corruption in the high places RIP Yakowa and for the for others as press tag it may their sole rest in peace

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