Mallam Olawale Rasheed, the spokesperson to the Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has confirmed the reported aircraft incident involving his principal, but clarified that there are strong indications that the two aircraft engines were tampered with before boarding.
The spokesperson of the Governor made this known in a statement he signed and issued on the incident on Sunday.
The said jet, a Bombardier Global Express 6000 was bought in 2020 for an estimated $63m by family patriarch, Dr Deji Adeleke, the governor’s elder brother and father of superstar singer David Adeleke aka Davido who also uses the plane for his global junkets.
Reacting to news reports on the incident, the Spokesperson said the highly technically equipped aircraft was well maintained with the best technical crew and was never an unused platform where birds could build nests.
Rasheed said contrary to the claim by the hanger owner that birds’ nests caused the incident, “birds’ nests are made with straws not binding wires as in this case”.
According to him, the near fatal incident was averted shortly after boarding and less than two minutes after the commencement of taxing on the tarmac.
He said an early warning noise from the engines immediately prompted the pilots to direct the evacuation of the passengers, adding: “Everything happened within five minutes.
“Early reports from the internal investigation indicated sabotage.
“But the authorities, locally and internationally, are still investigating the incident.
“We however want to assure the public that Governor Adeleke and his aides are safe and there was no injury or any outward explosion on the plane.
“The Governor expressed his deep appreciation to well wishers and supporters who have been calling since the report of the incident.
“Mr. Governor is hale and hearty.”
Initial reports suggest that the incident occurred at the domestic wing of the Airport at about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, when the jet was about to take off from Lagos to Abuja.
However, the incident wasn’t formally communicated to the concerned aviation regulatory authorities, a development that is against standard protocol, according to LEADERSHIP newspaper.
According to the report, Governor Adeleke and his top aides were on board the aircraft when the incident occurred.
It was learnt that the aircraft had taxied to the end of the runway, shortly before departure, when a loud explosion was heard from the engine of the jet, causing it to abort take-off immediately.
It was gathered that the jet had been parked at the Executive Jet hanger of the airport before it was deployed on September 5.
However, according to the report, there were no injuries or deaths recorded from the incident.
Meanwhile, airport authorities, Osun State government and the owners of the private hangar have been doing everything to ensure that the news does not get out, the report said.
Governor Adeleke’s aides could not be reached but one of the passengers on the plane told LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity that the operators of the hangar suspected that there might be foul play as both engines of the aircraft were damaged.
However, the chief executive officer (CEO), Executive Jets, which manages the hangar where the private jet was parked, Sam Iwuajoku, disclosed that the aircraft had Foreign Object Damage (FOD) that made the aircraft experience high temperature, which resulted in the explosion.
According to him, the FOD was caused by a bird nest in one of the engines of the jet.
“At take-off, the engine had a high temperature and it was caused by a bird nest in one of the engines of the aircraft.
“It happens when an aircraft is parked and not properly covered so birds will build their nest and anything they bring into the aircraft can spark high temperature.
“It happened to one of my aircraft in 2021; we had to remove the engine and the engine was in Germany for 14 months. So, it’s a common thing in Africa because we have birds around,” he stated.
Sources said that Davido used the aircraft the previous day, September 4.
Efforts to reach the NCAA were not successful but a source told the newspaper that the incident was not reported to the agency as its Air Worthiness Department was not aware of the incident.
“NCAA isn’t aware of this incident because the Air Worthiness Department is not aware,” the source was quoted as saying.