Posted by Kingsley Nwezeh, Abuja and Yekini Jimoh, Lokoja | 4 February 2019 | 893 times
There are growing concerns over the decision by the authorities to fly Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on a private aircraft as against the official aircraft from the presidential fleet that normally conveys him to his official engagements within the country.
This is coming as the vice president yesterday said God’s mercy and the special prayer of protection that the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, prayed for him last Friday were responsible for his escape in the helicopter crash.
He said that no amount of thanksgiving and praises to God would be enough for saving his life and nine others in Saturday’s helicopter crash.
The chopper belonging to Carverton Helicopters crash landed in Kabba Stadium in Kogi State, while conveying Osinbajo to a campaign rally.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said weekend it could not explain why the decision to fly the Vice President on a commercial helicopter was taken but noted that the NAF aircraft in the presidential air fleet regularly flew the vice president to official duties.
NAF also issued a statement to the effect that none of its planes flew the vice president to Kogi contrary to videos circulated on social media.
Security analysts and political watchers have expressed concern over the crash and the decision to fly the vice president outside the presidential air fleet while conspiracy theorists raised the alarm, alleging sabotage.
“Even in a campaign period, it is strange that a vice president would travel on a commercial helicopter when the presidential fleet is replete with helicopters and other aircraft that can convey him to the rally. Why is it so?,” a security analyst and Chairman, Security Imperatives, George Amata, queried.
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in his reaction, said the crash was “suspicious” and reminiscent of the crash that killed late former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi (rtd) and former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa.
“Interesting to note that the helicopter crash that almost took the life of @Prof. Osinbajo occured in Kabba…
“Also interesting to note what happened as the pilot tried to land. Reminds me of the suspicious “crash” that killed Azazi and Yakowa. I smell a rat”, he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said weekend it could not explain the rationale behind the decision to fly Osinbajo on a commercial helicopter.
“The Presidential Air fleet reports to the Presidency through the National Security Adviser (NSA). They also report to the Chief of Air Staff.
“The Presidential Air fleet is manned by our personnel and the commander is an air force officer, though there are also civilian pilots.
“In terms of how they took that decision, I cannot speak to that. Usually, the vice president flies directly NAF aircraft but you know it is a political rally so they may have taken the decision based on that”, NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, told THISDAY in a chat.
Also, NAF clarified weekend that the helicopter involved in the crash was not one of its own.
A statement at the weekend said the presidency had ordered a probe into the crash.
•Excerpted from THISDAY report
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