Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Yakowa/Azazi - No Foul Play in Crash, Says Gowon

Former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon yesterday disclosed how he declined an earlier invitation by pilot that flew the Nigerian Navy helicopter that crashed last Saturday in Okoloba community in Bayelsa State, killing Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa and erstwhile National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi (Rtd).

The former Military President however insisted that the chopper crash was not planned.

General Gowon disclosed this to Journalists in Kafanchan, during a Special Service Session to mark the 50th birthday of Apostle Emmanuel Nuhu Kure of Throneroom Ministry, Kafanchan, which turns out to be more of solemn session in respect of the late Governor Yakowa.

Gowon who eulogies Kure, as an "epitome of devotion, commitment and dedication to the work of God not only in Nigeria, but overseas", recalled how he missed the tragic flight in the Naval Helicopter last Saturday.

"As we were with the aide of the President to pay our condolence, they were arranging a Navy Helicopter to take us to Yenogoa (with Yakowa). But, another Helicopter was arranged for me and five others. And that was it.

"So when I heard about this accident, it really pains me. And I want to say, well, you can never tell with some of these things. It was an accident. Don't impugn any meaning to it. Don't say that it is plan to get rid of some people or something like that.

"It is an accident, yes it was an accident. There was this young Pilot of the Helicopter, who came to me after another helicopter was found for us, and he said to me, 'sir, but I was all ready to take you to Yenagoa, as part of my duty today'. And I said to him, 'don't worry, and there will be another time. I really hope I will have the pleasure of flying with you again'."

"These were nice innocent people. Something, probably mechanical, went wrong to have caused the accident. So it was not a plan to get ride of the Governor for whatever reason people want to guess.

"When, last Sunday, I saw the Governor (Ramalan Yero), who was newly sworn, I said, 'I hope you will continue with the good work that your late governor was doing. It was the two of you that were doing the work. You were working to bring peace to Kaduna State. I hope you will do something about this madness alluded to Boko Haram, which, unfortunately is being alluded to Muslims."

"If Boko Haram are Muslims, then they are not the Muslims that I have worked with over the years. So doesn't just blame Muslims for the violence, but that particular group that none of us understand. So, may the Soul of our brother rest with our Lord. Thank you."

Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau state, whose wife is a relation of late Patrick Yakowa, at the servce, said Yakowa was great son of Kaduna State who lived for the service of Nigeria, and was always preaching for peace and unity among the various groups in the state. He also praised Kure, for his evangelism, which he said had greatly influenced his Berom tribal group for the best.

The Secretary General of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Musa Asake, also told the gathering that the death of Yakowa has thrown a big challenge to the unity and prosperity of Christians In Kaduna State, and called on all to pray for peace and justice in the North.

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