The remains of all six people, including a state governor, who died in Saturday’s crash of a military helicopter in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region, have been retrieved, the Nigerian Navy said Sunday.
Navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu said the search and rescue effort that was launched immediately after the crash led to the retrieval of the remains of four passengers and the two pilots on board the Navy’s Agusta helicopter.
He said the crash site had been duly secured to allow for detailed investigation, and that the report of the investigation would be made available as soon as possible.
The victims included Gov. Patrick Yakowa of northern Kaduna state, the immediate past National Security Adviser Gen. Owoye Azazi, two aides of the governor and the former NSA as well as the two pilots.
The chopper was conveying the VIPs and their aides from Bayelsa State, where they attended the burial of the father of a presidential aide, to Rivers State when it crashed.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has called for a thorough investigation of the crash, saying that unravelling the cause of the crash with a view to preventing a recurrence will mean the victims did not die in vain.
”It is said that every plane crash makes flying safer. That assumes that every such crash is properly investigated and the cause or causes found, disclosed and fed into efforts aimed at averting a recurrence. Saturday’s crash should not be an exception,” the party said in a statement issued by its spokesman, Lai Mohammed.
It said far from the rituals of mourning the victims of such tragedies and ordering a probe, this latest crash must not be allowed to go the way of the previous ones, the cause or causes of which are yet unknown, thus robbing the nation of the chance to make flying in the country safer.
In a related development, former Nigerian military head of state, retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has postponed indefinitely the planned celebration of his 70th birthday Monday in the capital city of Abuja, in view of the crash which he described as a monumental national tragedy.
”For this reason and as a mark of honour to the dead, GMB (Gen. Muhammadu Buhari) has directed that the ceremony marking his 70th Birthday scheduled for Monday, 17th December, 2012, at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja be postponed indefinitely,” his party (Congress for Progressive Change) said in a statement Sunday.