Former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon said on Wednesday in Kafanchan, Kaduna State he narrowly missed the helicopter that crashed killing Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa and ex-National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi in Bayelsa State on Saturday.
Four others also died in the crash.
Gowon said this during a Special Service Session to mark the 50th birthday of Apostle Emmanuel Kure of Throney in Broom Ministry, Kafanchan.
He said, “As we were with the aide to the President to pay our condolences, 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 pained 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 was planned to get rid of some people or something like that.
“It was an accident, yes. 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, 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 rid of the governor for whatever any reason people want to guess.
“When, on Sunday, I saw the governor (Mukhtar Yero), 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’.”
Also speaking on the occasion, Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang said Yakowa lived for the service of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Fadan Kagoma village, in Jema’a Local Government Council, birthplace of the late Yakowa, is to receive his remains today (Thursday). Fadan Kagoma is about 230km away from Kaduna city.
At the Yakowa country home, workers were seen putting finishing touches to the grave he will be buried.
One of the leaders in the village, who would not want his names in print, said,“Our village is going to witness the greatest gathering it has ever seen, but for a sad reason. We are expecting the President to land in this village by helicopter tomorrow (today).”