FG through NCAA suspends RCCG Pastor Adeboye’s $12m helicopter with registration number 5N-EAA, from flying due to safety concern.
The Federal Government (FG) through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has grounded a private helicopter belonging to Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at the Lagos Airport.
Investigations by PUNCH learnt that the aircraft, AgustaWestland AW139 chopper, with registration number 5N-EAA, was suspended from flying over 2-weeks-ago. The suspension was reportedly due to the expiration of some of its papers and spare parts.
The suspension, officials said, would also allow the regulator to conduct vital safety checks on its safety-critical components, especially some spare parts that are due for replacement.
Adeboye had, last Saturday during a special meeting with all ordained ministers of the mission at the RCCG, Region 21, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, called for drastic action against corrupt practices in all facets of Nigeria.
The RCCG leader, 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 chopper.
He said he had decided to embark on the trip via his chopper to avoid a possible gridlock on the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
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.
“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.
“Then, I ran into something else. But by the grace of God, we are here.”
Although PUNCH could not ascertain who requested the bribe, investigations revealed that the cleric’s chopper was suspended over safety issues.
Due to the incident, sources revealed that Adeboye had to fly another aircraft reportedly belonging to Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) to the Ibadan programme.
A top official of NAMA, 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 his chopper had not been cleared by the NCAA 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) that we have now is different from what it used to be.
There is a new man in charge who 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 procedure must be followed. As such, an alternative arrangement should have been made.”
The NAMA official, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, 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 are yet to be shipped into Nigeria. This is because they are usually produced on demand, according to Omni-Blu Aviation.
As such, the regulatory agency, the NCAA, could not immediately grant the requested extension. Instead, NCAA requested that comprehensive safety checks be conducted on the aircraft in line with standard aviation safety practice.
He said :
“The NCAA that we have now is different from what it used to be. It always insists on 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.
Source : Punch