Why Adeboye’s Helicopter was Grounded

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Why Adeboye’s Helicopter was Grounded
Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, has defended its decision to prohibit a private chopper owned by Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God from flying.

The agency said the cleric’s chopper was suspended from flying by the regulatory authority over safety issues.

Reports say the aircraft, AgustaWestland AW139 chopper, with registration number 5N-EAA, was issued flying suspension about two weeks, over the expiration of some of its papers and spare parts.

Officials say the grounding of the aircraft would afford the regulator to carry out essential safety checks on safety-critical components, especially some spare parts due for replacement.

The clergy had last week advocated for drastic action against corrupt practices across the board in Nigeria, during a special meeting with all ordained ministers of the mission at the RCCG, Region 21, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Adeboye who flew a chopper to the venue said he arrived late for the meeting because someone had requested a bribe from him to fly his helicopter.

According to him, he had decided to embark on the trip via his chopper to avoid a possible gridlock on the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, SundayPUNCH, reports.

The 79-year-old mathematician-turned-preacher said, “I don’t give excuses because I have discovered long ago that only failures give excuses. But you must pray for Nigeria.

He said, “Something must be done about corruption in this nation. All I can say is that I am this late because somebody wanted a bribe. And you know if you are expecting a bribe from me, you have to wait forever.

“But the devil has failed. And the devil will continue to fail. I decided to come by helicopter so that there won’t be a traffic jam that would tie me down on the expressway because I know what the devil could do.

Multiple aviation sources told Sunday Punch that Adeboye could not fly his chopper with registration number 5N-EAA to the Ibadan programme but had to fly another aircraft reportedly belonging to Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel).

A top official of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, who is close to the operations of the two choppers belonging to the servants of God, said, “The team relating directly with Daddy G.O. should have told the man of God on time that the NCAA had not cleared his chopper and, as such, it couldn’t go on the Ibadan trip.

“They shouldn’t have waited till the last minute. The NCAA (aviation regulatory agency) we have now is different from what it used to be. A new man in charge always insists that things must be done properly as far as the safety of lives is concerned. The church’s protocol team should have told him that the NCAA has not cleared the aircraft and it may not clear it within a short time because certain procedures must be followed. As such, an alternative arrangement should have been made.”

The NAMA official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk about the matter, further said, “On that last Saturday morning, when it later became obvious that the jet was not cleared to fly, they had to make an alternative arrangement with Bishop Oyedepo’s chopper. They had to quickly begin that process by filing the flight plan, etc. It was Bishop’s aircraft that Pastor Adeboye later flew to the event. He could not use his own.”

A top official of Omni-Blu Aviation, the airline operating the chopper for Adeboye, confirmed the development.

The official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said a letter from Italy-based Leonardo, the manufacturer of Adeboye’s AW 139 helicopter, requesting the NCAA to grant a time extension on some spare parts that are due for replacement came late.

The spare parts due for replacement have been ordered from the manufacturer but they have yet to be shipped into Nigeria because they are usually produced on demand, according to Omni-Blu Aviation.

He said, “The NCAA that we have now is different from what it used to be. It always insists on a standard. We don’t want any disappointing situation for anybody, especially for a globally reputed servant of God like Daddy G.O.

“It appears the man of God was not properly briefed. But we thank God an alternative arrangement was made to rescue the situation. Safety is first and paramount. No life is worth toying with, how much more that of a servant of God like Daddy G.O. As an airline, we won’t compromise safety no matter the pressure.”

The Omni-Blu official denied knowledge of any bribe request, either by the airline or aviation officials.

He, however, said it was not impossible that some people might have cashed in on the situation to demand a bribe.

“You know some people don’t fear God no matter what. They can even go to the extent of asking a servant of God for a bribe. So, it is not impossible. But on our part, I am not aware of such.”

As it stands, it is uncertain when Adeboye’s chopper will be allowed to fly.

However, findings revealed that the NCAA had directed maintenance and safety checks to be conducted on the aircraft.

As such, the operator has secured a date for this at Aero’s maintenance hangar.

When contacted for comments, the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, confirmed that the regulatory agency had suspended flights on the aircraft for safety reasons.

According to him, the NCAA does not often deal directly with individuals or owners of aircraft but the operator.

This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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