*Crew managed situation well – VP
*APC, PDP, Peter Obi, Dickson express shock
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Dirisu Yakubu,Omeize Ajayi and Boluwaji Obahopo, Lokoja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a Minister and 10 others, yesterday, in Kabba, Kogi State, survived when the helicopter in which they were travelling crashed. The incident happened at Kabba Township Stadium.
The VP, who was in Kogi in continuation of the TraderMoni scheme, was scheduled to visit Kabba, Okene and Idah, headquarters of Kogi West, Central and East respectively.
At exactly 2:40 pm, the first chopper in Osinbajo’s entourage made a successful landing and was followed by the second chopper conveying the VP.
The chopper conveying the VP, which made its landing around 2:45 pm, was, however, unlucky as the tail of the chopper caught one of the vehicles parked in the arena and tumbled immediately.
Emergency prayers erupted in the crowd when part of the chopper’s wings got severed from the main body.
It took several minutes before the door of the chopper could be forced open.
The VP, who was subsequently freed from his seat belt and carried out of the chopper, took some minutes to stand and waved to the waiting crowd.
He was immediately taken away to an hotel where he rested before proceeding to the palace of the Obaro of Kabba, who doubles as the Chairman, Okun Traditional Council, HRM, Oba Solomon Owoniyi.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, later yesterday, Osinbajo expressed thanks to Nigerians for their concern over the chopper crash.
The statement said the VP, after the mishap, continued his engagements in Kogi, engaging the people on the Next Level plan of the Buhari administration.
He quoted him as saying, “We are safe and sound. Thank you to everyone who has expressed concern, and thank you to the crew who managed the situation well.
“We believe that God will continue to keep us and Nigeria safe even as we go higher. We continue Next level engagements in Kabba, Kogi State.”
In a follow-up statement, also by Akande, last night, the spokesperson narrated the incident. The statement said: “Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, departed Abuja around 1pm today on a chopper ride to Kogi State in continuation of the Family Chats & Next Level engagements.
“Prof. Osinbajo headed first to Kabba, and while landing at the Kabba Stadium, the helicopter suddenly skidded sideways until it halted on its side few metres away from the intended resting spot.
“Alongside VP Osinbajo, the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, senior presidential aides, security officials and the crew; there were a total of 12 people on board. everyone came out safely after the incident.
“We are grateful to God for His protection and safety, and we thank the crew and security personnel for their prompt response and service. We are also grateful for the tremendous expressions of concern and affection, as well as prayers from all.
“As is procedural, a full investigation into the causes of the incident would be conducted by aviation authorities.
“The Vice President is continuing the planned engagements in Kogi State as scheduled.”
Shock, gratitude to God
The All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, and Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State expressed shock over the helicopter crash.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement, said the party continued to pray for the safety of all its leaders.
“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 #NextLevelEngagements ahead of the #2019Elections”, the statement said.
“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”.
In its own statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP thanked God for the safety of the Vice President, members of his entourage and the crew.
The party, however, called for a thorough investigation “into the traumatic incident” adding that “the safety of the nation’s leaders, and of course, all Nigerians, must be guaranteed, especially at this critical time.”
It also urged all Nigerians regardless of creed, ethnicity and political affiliation, to continue to pray for God’s continued intervention in the affairs of the nation.
On his part, Dickson urged Nigerians to thank God for sparing the lives of Osinbajo and other passengers in the helicopter.
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.
The Bayelsa governor said, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, that Nigerians should regard themselves as members of a solid and united family irrespective of political differences and platforms.
Reacting on the incident, last night, Peter Obi , who was on campaign with his presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, in Umuahi, Abia State at the time of the crash, expressed shock over the incident and gratitude to God for sparing the VP’s life as well as the lives of others in the chopper with him.
Obi prayed God to continue to protect all those running around on campaign and Nigerians in general.
He called on Nigerians to remain prayerful at all times.
Osinbajo, speaking at the Obaro of Kabba’s palace, his first stop in the visit to Kogi, the VP expressed gratitude to God for surviving the chopper 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.”
Yesterday’s incident was the second time Osinbajo’s helicopter would be involved in an incident.In June 2017, he survived a similar accident when the chopper he was traveling in crash-landed shortly after take off in Gwagawalada, Abuja.