By OUR REPORTER
In an exclusive report at the weekend, Nigeria’s atmosphere was saved from would-have-been sad news that would have sent Africa’s most populous country into mourning.
This was as Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, and his aides reportedly escaped, by a stroke of luck, what could have been a national tragedy, when a private jet owned by billionaire businessman, Chief Adedeji Adeleke, caught fire at take-off point at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
Although this incident happened 12 days ago precisely on Tuesday September 5, news of the would-have-been sad event got into public knowledge via an exclusive report by LEADERSHIP, which cited multiple sources familiar with the incident, at the weekend.
Chief Adeleke is the father of Afrobeat musician, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido. He is also the brother of the Osun State governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
He owns the Bombadier Global Express 6000 involved in the incident. The jet is used as a family plane by the Adelekes.
According to the report, the incident happened at the domestic wing of the Murrala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, at about 9am on the fateful day 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, the report noted.
It was gathered that the jet, with Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, on board and his top aides at the time of the incident, 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.
“No deaths or injuries were reported, and other passengers in the plane as of the time of the incident could not be ascertained,” a source privy to the development related as capultured in the LEADERSHIP report.
It was further gathered that the jet had been parked at the Executive Jet hanger of the Airport before it was deployed on September 5.
Multiple sources confided, the exclusive report continued, that even though there were no injuries or deaths recorded from the incident, however, all parties including the Airport authorities, the Osun State government and the owners of the private hanger have been desperate to ensure that the news of the incident does not get to the public domain.
It said it had been impossible to speak with Governor Adeleke or any of his aides as at press time on Saturday. Even though one of the passengers on the plane, who did not want to be named, confided in the reporter that foul play was being suspected from the hangar operators as both engines of the aircraft were damaged.
However, the chief executive officer (CEO), Executive Jets, owners of the hangar where the private jet was parked, Sam Iwuajoku, reportedly disclosed that the Chief Adeleke’s private jet had Foreign Object Damage (FOD) that made the aircraft experienced high temperature, which resulted into 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 high temperature and it was caused by bird nest in one of the engines of the aircraft. It happened 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.
But, credible sources told LEADERSHIP that the internationally renowned musician, Davido, had used the plane the previous day, September 4, putting a lie to Iwuajoku of Executive Jets’ account of the incident, the media report said.
Meanwhile, it said, efforts to get confirmation from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) proved abortive as calls and text messages placed to its director-general, Capt. Musa Nuhu, were not replied as at the time of filing this report on Saturday.
However, a reliable source confided in our correspondent that the incident wasn’t reported to the NCAA as the Air Worthiness Department of the Authority wasn’t aware of the incident, LEADERSHIP said.
The source, who craved anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said: “NCAA isn’t aware of this incident because the Air Worthiness Department is not aware.”