Nigerian governor, ex-security head die in air crash

Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:50pm EST
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By Owolabi Tife

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - The governor of Nigeria's volatile Kaduna state and a former national security adviser were among six killed when a helicopter crashed in the southerly oil-producing Bayelsa state on Saturday, officials said.

The helicopter wobbled in the sky before nose-diving into a forest in Ogbia Creek at around 3:30 p.m. (0930 ET), a local resident who witnessed the crash told Reuters.

"By the time we got to the scene it was in flames," said Hitler Adunion, a local community leader. "We tried to put them out but it was difficult. We saw the roasted bodies of those inside."

The Nigerian Navy confirmed that its Agusta helicopter had crashed while carrying VIPs to Port Harcourt but it didn't give a reason and civilian authorities declined to speculate on the cause. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered an investigation.

"(The) President has expressed utter shock and sadness over the crash ... (he) extends deep and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the deceased," a statement from the presidency said.

The statement confirmed the deaths of Kaduna state governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, former national security adviser General Owoye Azazi, their aides Dauda Tsoho and Mohammed Kamal and the two pilots, Muritala Mohammed Daba and Adeyemi Sowole.

Yakowa won a tight vote last year to become Kaduna's first Christian governor, under the ruling People's Democratic Party ticket. He replaced Namadi Sambo, who is now vice president.

VIOLENCE   Continued...