The Osun State government has confirmed the exclusive news report by LEADERSHIP on an averted plane crash involving a private jet owned by billionaire businessman, Chief Adedeji Adeleke, on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
LEADERSHIP reports that save for a stroke of luck, what could have been a national tragedy, was averted when the Bombadier Global Express 6000 caught fire at take-off point with Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, and his aides, on board.
The incident happened at about 9am on the fateful day when the jet was about to take off from Lagos to Abuja.
The jet is also used as a family plane by the Adelekes.
However, the incident wasn’t formally communicated to the concerned Aviation regulatory authorities, a development that is against standard protocol.
Sources indicated that the jet, with Osun State governor 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 had told our correspondent.
LEADERSHIP 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 in LEADERSHIP 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 had been desperate to ensure that the news of the incident doesn’t get to the public domain.
However, the chief executive officer (CEO), Executive Jets, owners of the hangar where the private jet was parked, Sam Iwuajoku, 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, David Adeleke, a.k.a Davido, had used the plane the previous day, September 4, putting a lie to Iwuajoku of Executive Jets’ account of the incident.
Meanwhile, 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.
But, spokesperson to the Osun State Governor, Mallam Olawale Rasheed, who confirmed the LEADERSHIP exclusive report, however, claimed that there were strong indications that the two engines of the aircraft were tampered with before boarding by Governor Adeleke and his aides.
Reacting to the news report on the incident in a statement on Sunday, the governor’s 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.
“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 commencement of taxing on the tarmac.
“An early warning noise from the engines immediately prompted the pilots to direct evacuation of the passengers. Everything happened within five minutes.
“Early reports from 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,” Rasheed stated.