Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was second time lucky yesterday after surviving a helicopter crash at Kabba, Kogi State, two weeks to the presidential election.
No one on board the Augusta AW139 helicopter was hurt, neither was anyone on ground.
The six-seater chopper was in the process of landing at the Kabba Township Stadium when it unexpectedly lost one of its blades and hit the ground on its right side.
Caverton Helicopters, the firm that manages the aircraft, attributed the crash to bad weather which apparently blurred visibility for the pilot.
An eye witness said that as the helicopter made to land on the sandy field, a lot of dust was thrown up and visibility became poor.
In no time, one of the blades flew off and the helicopter lost balance.
At a point, the aircraft appeared to be swerving to one end of the stadium where a bus was parked but the pilot managed to manoeuvre it from the area until he finally lost control and the helicopter went down.
The eyewitness said a lot of people would have possibly died if the chopper had crashed where it was first headed.
Inside the Coaster bus were Senator Smart Adeyemi, a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Kogi West and some of his supporters.
An aide to Adeyemi, Mr. Dare Olayemi, said of the incident: “By all definition, the crash, the safety of VP Osinbajo and the fact that there was no casualty constitute a very strange miracle.
“I was among those who brought out the Vice President through the window of the crashed chopper; the man did not sustain a single bruise and he went ahead straightaway to launch the Tradermoni as earlier planned.
“About thirty minutes earlier, a police helicopter which appeared to be an advance party had landed.
“The Vice President’s helicopter appeared to be shiny and in spectacular condition – far more impressive to look at than the previous one.
“My leader, Senator Adeyemi, and several others were in a Coaster bus when we suddenly realised that the pilot had lost control.
“Were it not for God’s timely intervention and the pilot’s reaction, our bus would have become a trap in a stadium built by Senator Adeyemi for his people a few years ago.
“The surging crowd made it difficult for the bus to move and when the helicopter crash landed, losing one side, some of us rushed to help but other than the VP, I can’t recognise faces of the others in the helicopter.
“It was indeed, a very strange miracle that none in the crowd and none of the helicopter occupants suffered any injury
“Minutes afterwards, the Vice President carried on with the Tradermoni event as if the shocking and unprecedented spectacle that we all witnessed earlier, with our hearts in our mouth, was a non-event.”
Once out of the chopper, an unperturbed Osinbajo was ushered into a waiting vehicle and driven in a convoy to the palace of the Obaro of Kabba, to pay a courtesy call.
Speaking at the Obaro’s Palace, Osinbajo expressed gratitude to God for keeping death at bay during the crash.
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.”
Osinbajo later addressed a crowd at the St Augustine’s College in the town.
He was also billed to launch the trader moni in Kabba.
Spokesman to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, confirmed the crash on his Twitter handle.
He said: “VP Osinbajo’s Chopper crash lands in Kabba, but he and the entire crew safe.
“He is continuing with his engagements and plans for the day in Kogi State.”
Osinbajo himself also went on his Twitter handle @ProfOsinbajo to express appreciation for the concern shown by Nigerians over the incident.
He said: “All thanks and glory to God, the chopper we boarded today from Abuja just crash landed in Kabba, Kogi State, and the entire crew plus myself are all safe.
“We are continuing with our Next Level Engagements and plans for Kogi State.”
The management of Caverton Helicopters last night attributed the chopper crash to “unusual weather conditions.”
It said it had informed the relevant authorities connected with the probe of the incident.
In a statement, Caverton Helicopters said there were no injuries to either Osinbajo or any of the passengers.
The statement was signed by its Managing Director/Accountable Manager, Capt. Josiah CHOMS PhD MNIM
The statement said: “An Augusta AW139 Helicopter, under management by Caverton Helicopters was involved in a mishap on landing in Kabba, Kogi State around 3pm today (2nd February 2019) as a result of unusual weather conditions.
“There were no injuries to the passengers or crew onboard and they were all quickly and safely evacuated.
“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.”
We pray for safety of our leaders, says APC
His party, APC, said it would continue to pray for the safety of Nigerian leaders and the general progress of the nation.
Reacting to the helicopter crash the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa Onilu, said the party was grateful for the safety of the Vice President.
He 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 which occurred in Kabba, Kogi State while undertaking the All Progressives Congress #NextLevel Engagements ahead of the #2019Elections.
“The Party prays for continuous safety of our leaders and general progress of our great country.
“We also congratulate @ProfOsinbajo, an alumnus of Igbobi College @ICYaba on the institution’s 87 founders day anniversary being marked today.”
Atiku ‘elated’ over VP’s survival
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar said he was elated to learn that Osinbajo and those in the helicopter did not suffer any injury.
He said: “Dear Vice President @ProfOsinbajo, I just received news of the crash of your helicopter in Kabba, Kogi State. I am happy to note however that all is well with you and your delegation.
Atiku’s running mate, Mr.Peter Obi, also expressed gratitude to God that there was no loss of life in the incident.
Obi prayed to God to continue to protect all those running around on campaign and Nigerians in general.
He asked Nigerians to remain prayerful at all times.
Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also expressed joy that Osinbajo survived the crash.
Saraki joined “all Nigerians in thanking Almighty God for sparing the life of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who survived a helicopter crash over Kabba, Kogi State “while Dogara urged “relevant authorities to conduct due diligence checks on all govt owned aircraft to prevent a re-occurrence.”
However, the PDP called for “a thorough investigation into the traumatic incident.”
The party’s national publicity secretary,Mr.Kola Ologbondiyan said: “the safety of our leaders, and of course, all Nigerians, must be guaranteed, especially at this critical time.
“The PDP urges all Nigerians irrespective of creed, ethnicity and political affiliation, to continue to pray for God’s continued intervention in our national life.”
Dickson urges Nigerians to thank God for averting national tragedy
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State urged Nigerians to thank God for sparing the lives of the Vice President and other passengers in the helicopter.
He said “I have heard about the crash-landing of the helicopter that was conveying the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and other passengers at Kabba, Kogi State.
“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.
“We should all thank God for sparing the lives of the Vice President, the other passengers and the crew for his mercies.
“In this country, we have a responsibility to see ourselves as brothers and sisters of a united family irrespective of differences in party platforms.
“Being in different parties should not make us see ourselves as enemies or tear us apart. We should reinforce our common humanity in moments like this.”
“My family and I and indeed the Government and people of Bayelsa State hereby offer our best wishes and show gratitude to God for sparing life of the Vice President.”
The Southwest Campaign Council of President Muhammadu Buhari said it received the unfortunate news of the accident.
The campaign council in a statement by its spokesman,Rotimi Ogunleye however expressed appreciation to God that the Vice President and his team did not sustain any injury.
The council thanked Nigerians for their prayers.
It believed that the prayers of Nigerians have been the sustaining grace for Osinbajo and the government of APC in Nigeria in their quest for a better Nigeria.
While thanking God, the campaign council pleaded with Nigerians to continue to pray for Nigeria and her leaders.
On June 7, 2018, a chopper conveying the vice-president from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, was forced to land a few seconds after takeoff.
At the time, Laolu Akande, VP’s Senior Special Assistant, explained that the vice-president avoided using his chopper from Gwagwalada where he had gone for an official assignment back to the Presidential Villa due to “technical reasons.”
He said the vice-president returned to the Presidential Villa by road and continued with his schedule.
“VP Osinbajo attended the graduation ceremony of Nigeria Customs Senior Course in Gwagwalada today (Thursday June 7, 2018),” he had tweeted.
“On his way back, it was decided, for technical reasons, not to fly the chopper that had brought him to the venue. He drove back to the Presidential Villa and continued his schedule.”