Nigerian Governor Ibrahim Yakowa and five others were killed when their plane crashed on Saturday in Nigeria’s oil-producing Bayelsa state, according to officials.
Also killed were a former national security adviser, General Owoye Azazi, their aides Dauda Tsoho and Mohammed Kamal, as well as the two pilots, Muritala Mohammed Daba and Adeyemi Sowole, reports Reuters.
Yakowa was the governor of the volatile Kaduna state, which is continually fighting against suicide bombings. A local resident who witnessed the helicopter crash stated the the aircraft wobbled in the sky before it took a nose dive into a forest in Ogbia Creek around 3:30 pm local time.
Hitler Adunion, a local community leader who responded to the helicopter crash, recalled:
“By the time we got to the scene it was in flames. We tried to put them out but it was difficult. We saw the roasted bodies of those inside.”
The Nigerian Navy confirmed the Nigerian governor’s helicopter crash, saying that the incident occurred while the aircraft was transporting VIPs to Port Harcourt, though the did not give a reason for the crash, notes Al Jazeera. A statement from the presidency read:
“[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.”
Governor Yakowa won a close election last year, becoming Kaduna’s first Christian governor. Kaduna is on the border betweenthe mostly Christian south and the largely Muslim north and has been the center of mass religious conflict. Hundreds of people have been killed in the past year during clashes between ethnic and religious groups.