The Accident Investigation Bureau has said it has deployed its investigators to the site of the helicopter crash involving the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in Kabba, Kogi State on Saturday.
One of our correspondents gathered that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had officially informed the AIB to investigate the incident.
The General Manager, Public Relations, AIB, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that preliminary investigation had commenced.
Oketunbi said, “Investigation is ongoing, we have deployed safety investigators to the site for onsite investigation and they have carried out the process as they are trained to do.
“We are interviewing the crew and all the relevant personnel. We will also carry out other investigations as required.
“The preliminary report will be published as soon as possible in line with Annex 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.”
Also, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on Sunday confirmed that investigation had started into Saturday’s crash.
The agency’s General Manager, Public Relations, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said the investigation was being conducted by the AIB, the statutory agency saddled with the task of investigating such accidents.
Also confirming the development, Caverton Helicopters, in a statement signed by its Managing Director, Capt. Josiah Choms, said the relevant aviation agencies had been informed about the incident.
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 our operations.”
Osinbajo says God, Adeboye’s prayers delivered him
Meanwhile, Osinbajo on Sunday said God’s mercy and the special prayer of protection that the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, prayed for him last Friday were responsible for his escape in the helicopter crash.
Osinbajo said this on Sunday at a thanksgiving service held at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Phase 11, Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
The Vice-President, who escaped unhurt in a helicopter crash on Saturday said, “I was at the Redemption Camp last Friday although I came late, after the vigil, Papa Adeboye called me and asked how the campaign was going and I told him, it was going well. He then prayed for me and specifically said ‘God, you know how dear this my son is to me, please protect him.’
“He said the prayers continuously for more than five times. I believe God must have listened and decided to save my life and those in my entourage.”
Osinbajo said he believed that God and Adeboye’s prayers were responsible for his escape last Saturday.
He urged the members of the congregation to believe in the efficacy of prayers.
“Whether or not the devil likes it, we are moving to the next level,” he added.
Osinbajo added that no amount of thanksgiving and praises to God would be enough for saving his life and nine others in Saturday’s helicopter crash.
“Only God can take the glory for saving my life and those of the others on board,” he said.
The Vice-President said it would have been breaking news on local and international media that he and others had died in the crash but God did not allow such to happen.
“No amount of thanksgiving and praises to God would be enough for saving my life and nine others on board. God is the one, who can do all things, and only Him can take the glory; we return the glory to Him.
“We are here to say thank you. Thank you, Jesus. We bless His name forever and ever,” he said.
He prayed God to bless all the people that had celebrated with him in Kogi State, the nation and the world at large.
“All I have to say is that we are grateful and we are moving to the next level; the Lord will uphold us to the next level and Kogi will be number one,” Osinbajo said.
Dignitaries who attended the thanksgiving service included the Speaker, Kogi House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole; Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Dr Ayoade Arike; Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Jerry Omodara; commissioners and Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Adeboye leads thanksgiving service for Osinbajo
In Lagos, Adeboye led the congregation at the headquarters of the church at Ebute Metta, Lagos to thank God for saving Osinbajo in a helicopter crash on Saturday.
Adeboye, during the service, recalled that a word of prophecy came during the church’s Holy Ghost Service on Friday that no matter how hard the enemy would try, there would be no mourning in “our families this year.”
Addressing the congregation, he stated, “Would you please join me in thanking God that there is no mourning in our family this morning.”
On Friday night, he had said, “The Lord has asked me to tell someone tonight that it doesn’t matter what the enemy might try, there would be no mourning in your family this year.”
He asked the congregation to give glory to God for saving Osinbajo’s life.
According to Adeboye, the devil wanted to take Osinbajo’s life but God put the devil to shame.
He, therefore, asked the congregation to specially appreciate God on behalf of the Vice-President and all those onboard the ill-fated helicopter, for his supernatural protection, saying Nigeria would not mourn.
In his sermon, entitled, “Carriers of Glory,” Adeboye said for anybody to carry God’s glory, he must be a true child of God and live a life of holiness.
Taking his lesson from the book of Matthew 5: 14-15 in the Bible, he said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Adeboye added, “As a carrier of God’s glory, anywhere you arrive, darkness will automatically disappear. When God begins to use you, the glory belongs to God, so you must learn to always give glory to God. Do not take the glory to yourself because it is not yours, it belongs to God.”
We were lucky helicopter didn’t burst into flames – Ojudu
Meanwhile, one of Osinbajo’s aides, Babafemi Ojudu, who was on board the crashed helicopter, said they were lucky that the helicopter did not burst into flames.
Ojudu, who took to his Facebook page to narrate his ordeal during the incident, added that the seat belts helped them while their ordeal lasted.
He wrote, “To family, friends and associates, thank you all for your concern and show of love and affection. I can’t thank you enough. It was a miracle we survived.
“The seat belts did a marvelous job and so were the security men on the ground, who quickly pulled us out of the wreckage not minding their own safety. We were also calm all through the ordeal. There was no panic of any kind.
“The immediate concern of all of us was the safety of our principal (Osinbajo). We ensured he got out first. He too ensured we were all out before going into a vehicle. When we were all safely in the bus he insisted the assignment must go on and we drove to the palace of the Obaro of Kabba.
“The Kabba people gave us a warm welcome and showered us with prayers. We thank them all. Above all, God must be praised for providing us that umbrella of protection and preventing the helicopter from exploding in flames.”
Buhari salutes Osinbajo’s spiritual strength after crash
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Osinbajo for his “resilience” over how he handled the helicopter crash.
According to a statement from Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, Buhari called the Vice-President on phone and praised him for continuing with campaign activities despite the crash.
Buhari said it “takes tenacious spirit and amazing spiritual strength to survive a helicopter crash without being paralysed by its impact.”
Shehu quoted the President as telling Osinbajo during the phone call that, “We give glory to the Almighty God for sparing your life. I’m impressed by your tenacious spirit which enabled you to continue on your campaign engagement, despite the shock of the crash.
“I’m proud of our partnership and your unalloyed loyalty and your commitment to the service of Nigeria.
“That you proceeded with your engagements, despite the accident, is a testimony to your passion for service to country and a reflection of your admirable spiritual fervour.
“May God continue to protect you and all those on board with you, bless your lives and grant you good health and long life to serve our country even more.”
Crashed helicopter not ours, says NAF
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force has said the Augusta AW139 Helicopter, which was involved in the crash “neither belongs to NAF nor part of the 011 Presidential Air Fleet.”
This was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Public Relations and Information Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in Abuja, on Sunday.
Daramola said, “NAF wishes to state categorically that the helicopter that crashed in Kabba does not belong to NAF or 011 PAF. The owners/operators of the civilian helicopter, Messrs Caverton Helicopters, have already issued a statement on the matter.
“In addition, the military Dauphin Helicopter, painted in desert camouflage colour, seen in the video circulating on social media does not belong to NAF and should not be misrepresented as belonging to NAF. Accordingly, the general public is advised to disregard such erroneous information and the misleading video.”
CAN felicitates with Osinbajo
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria on Sunday felicitated with Osinbajo for surviving the helicopter crash.
The CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in a statement in Abuja issued by his Special Assistant, Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, also appreciated God for Osinbajo’s safety.
“The leadership of CAN is grateful to God and rejoices with the Federal Government and Osinbajo. We give glory to God for sparing the life of the Vice-President and his team from the helicopter crash while mobilising support for his party in preparations for the coming general elections,” he said.
The cleric recalled that the Vice-President had a similar experience in 2018 while visiting the Nigeria Customs College in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
“It is our prayers that God will continue to watch over him and other top government functionaries in Jesus’ name,” he said.
Ayokunle urged the technical team or those responsible for the certification of the aircraft and helicopters in the country used by government’s officials to be more meticulous so as to avoid putting their lives in danger.
Okowa, Ife monarch rejoice with Osinbajo
Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, have rejoiced with the Vice-President and others for surviving the helicopter crash .
Okowa in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu, in Asaba, said, “I rejoice with Mr President, President Muhammadu Buhari, the entire Federal Executive Council and the generality of Nigerians because, we would have been thrown into a national mourning if the devil had prevailed in his evil enterprise.”
The governor called on relevant stakeholders to ensure adequate maintenance and global best practices in the aviation sector to prevent deaths occasioned by such negative occurrences.
The Ife monarch in a statement signed by Director, Media and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, Mr Moses Olafare, on Sunday, glorified God for saving Osinbajo and his aides who were involved in the crash.
Oba Ogunwusi said he rejoiced with all the survivors, their families, the government and Nigerians over the rescue of the Vice-President and his aides.
He urged all the politicians to remain unshaken by the incident, adding that they should continue with their electioneering ahead of the February 16 and March 2 general elections.
Explain why VP used hired helicopter, Ositelu tells FG
However, the presidential candidate of the Accord Party, Isaac Ositelu, on Sunday asked the Federal Government to explain to Nigerians why Osinbajo had to use a hired helicopter instead of flying one of the choppers in the presidential fleet.
He also said the circumstances surrounding the crash must be probed and its outcome made public in order to ensure that there was no repeat of such accident.
Ositelu in a statement said, “It is imperative to the government to give this explanation because of the subdued rumour that a certain cabal might have made it difficult for the Vice-President to have unmitigated access to the use of the aircraft in the presidential fleet.”
Ositelu also expressed worry over what he described as the chaotic scene of the crash site.