Chief of Naval Staff , Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba
By Segun James in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Navy has commenced investigations into the cause of the crash of its helicopter at Nembe-Okoroba area of Bayelsa State that killed the Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), and four others.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, told THISDAY yesterday that the navy would spare no effort in getting to the root of the crash, adding that the military would also contact the manufacturers of the helicopter, if need be, to ensure a detailed probe.
Already, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered an investigation into the crash, as the airworthiness of the helicopter has been the subject of speculation.
There were insinuations that the ill-fated helicopter might have had some technical problems before the crash on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses said the take-off of the chopper was delayed and some minor technical work was carried out on it before it finally took off.
Also, another eyewitness in Port Harcourt informed THISDAY that his helicopter took off immediately after the navy’s helicopter and smoke was noticed billowing from it as it rose into the air.
However, the navy, in a statement yesterday assured Nigerians that the report of the investigation would be made public as soon as possible.
In the statement signed by the Naval Director of Communication, Commodore Kabir Aliyu, the navy said that search and rescue efforts had led to the recovery of the bodies of four passengers and two pilots on board its crashed helicopter NN07.
Besides Yakowa and Azazi, others on board the helicopter were the governor’s aide, Dauda Tsoho, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal, who was Azazi’s aide as well as the pilots, Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba and Lt. Adeyemi O. Sowole.
The statement said the site of the accident had been duly secured and cordoned off to allow for detailed investigation.
“It should be noted that the report of the investigation would be made available as soon as possible,” the navy said.
It further expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and regrets over the “unfortunate incident” as well as prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased.