by Olusola Fabiyi and David Attah
NIGERIAN Governors’ Forum has demanded an active role in the investigation into Saturday’s helicopter crash which claimed the lives of Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi in Bayelsa State.
The victims were said to be returning from the funeral of the father of Oronto Douglas, an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, when the military helicopter they were travelling in crashed.
Jonathan, who was saddened by the development, immediately ordered a probe into the crash.
At the end of an emergency meeting at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja on Monday, the governors called for an independent and transparent probe into the crash.
A communiqué of the meeting read by the NGF Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, insisted that the investigation must be thorough.
The group said, “The forum further resolved to engage a consultant to participate in the investigation process or serve as an observer.”
They “supported the directive of the President for a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the helicopter crash and calls for transparency and openness in the process”.
The governors condoled with Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the governments and people of Bayelsa and Kaduna states over the death of Azazi and Yakowa.
They also condoled with the families of their aides also killed in the crash – Dauda Tsoho and Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal and the pilots, Commander Muritala Daba and Lt. Adeyemi Sowole.
Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu lamented the death of prominent Nigerians in air crashes.
He said, “You know that a serving Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Haruna John, died in a similar helicopter crash in Jos.
“The Federal Government must take audit of all military and police aircraft and helicopters for their airworthiness and ensure a proper and prompt maintenance.”
Some of the governors, who spoke with reporters, wondered why the helicopter exploded mid air.
At the meeting were the governors of Imo, Abia, Ogun, Anambra, Adamawa, Rivers, Kogi, Ondo, Kebbi, Yobe, Niger, Gombe, Sokoto, Edo and Plateau states.
Enugu, Bauchi and Nasarawa governors were represented by their deputies.
The governors who later paid a condolence visit to the new Kaduna State Governor Mukhtar Yero in Kaduna, promised to support Jonathan throughout the investigation into the crash.
Rivers State Governor Amaechi said, “It is with pain that we are here to condole with you not because we don’t share in your pain but because it is traditional to visit the owner of the corpse or the body. We felt that your former boss was our colleague until two days ago.
“In the tragic manner in which he died, we have resolved to do two things – to support the President in his call for investigation and to come here to pay our condolences to you who are the chief mourner and the people of Kaduna State and the immediate families of Yakowa.”
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