The remains of the Late Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa, and that of his aide and friend, Dauda Tsoho, arrived in Kaduna airport aboard a Nigerian Air Force cargo plane at 2.45pm on Tuesday.
The bodies were received by hundreds of wailing sympathisers who thronged the airport.
Bodies of the late governor as well as those of other four, out of the six victims of Saturday’s naval helicopter crash in Okorobo, Bayelsa State, had been airlifted from Yenagoa aboard a Nigerian Air Force Super Puma Helicopter marked NAF 567 at 11.45am.
The other bodies that left Yenagoa alongside that of Yakowa and Tsoho were those of an ex-National Security Adviser Gen. Owoye Azazi’s bodyguard, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal; and the two naval pilots, Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba, and Lt. Adeyemi Sowole.
The PUNCH learnt that the NAF aircraft stopped at the Port Harcourt airport in Rivers State where the bodies were flown to different destinations in different aircrafts.
Yakowa and the four, as well as Azazi, were victims of the crashed Augusta 109 Naval Helicopter in Okoroba, Bayelsa State, on Saturday.
They met their death while returning from the burial of the father of President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Oronto Douglas. Douglas is Jonathan’s Adviser on Research, Documentation and Strategy.
The remains of Azazi, an indigene of Bayelsa, were however left in the mortuary of the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, for burial on a date yet to be announced by the government.
While the bodies of Yakowa and Tsoho were airlifted from Port Harcourt to Kaduna, those of Daba and Sowole were taken to their respective home states in Kano and Lagos.
Two black caskets with silver handles bore Yakowa’s and Tsoho’s remains while three brown caskets with golden handles contained the bodies of three others.
The caskets which were covered with the Nigerian flags were accompanied by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson; his wife, Rachel; Deputy Governor John Douglas; a former governor of the state, Diepreye Alameiseigha; commissioners and other members of the state executive council.
At the special valedictory session in honour of Yakowa at the Executive Chambers of the Government House before the late governor’s remains departed the state, were also the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin; commanders of the Air Force Mobility Command, the Joint Task Force, and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kingsley Omire, among others.
Dickson poured encomiums on the late Yakowa, describing him as a bridge builder and humble governor.
Some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party, including the aides of the late Yakowa, attended the ceremony.
Dickson, who said Yakowa died in active service, added that his death should encourage people to live in peace and harmony.
In Kaduna, children, women as well as men wailed as the delegation from Bayelsa State, led by Alamieseigha, formally handed over the corpses of Yakowa and his aide to top Kaduna State government functionaries.
At the Kaduna airport to receive the corpses were the new Governor of the state, Mukhtar Yero; Yakowa’s widow, Amina; Senator Danjuma Goje; Senator Bola Saraki; and top state functionaries.
The Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna Diocese, Archbishop Matthew Man Oso Ndagoso; and the Catholic Bishop of Zaria, Rev George Jonathan Dodo, took turns to pray for the remains of the late governor and his aide before the caskets were transferred into an Hilux ambulance.
From the airport, the two golden caskets were driven in a motorcade through the Nnamdi Azikiwe Western Bypass to the Saint Gerard Catholic Hospital where the corpses were deposited in the mortuary.
The Senate President, David Mark, in company with his wife, Helen, was at the St. Gerard Hospital. He later proceeded to the Government House to pay condolence to Yakowa’s family.
The late governor is expected to be buried on Thursday in his home town, Fadan Kagoma in Jema’a Local Government Area of the state.
Meanwhile, one of the soldiers that moved the bodies of Yakowa and the others from the morgue into the helicopter slumped shortly after the assignment, thus causing panic and anxiety among those at the venue.
The state medical team however revived the soldier, whose name could not be ascertained, several minutes after.
The collapsed soldier was among the two groups of soldiers who took turns to lift the caskets bearing the bodies of the victims into the Air Force helicopter.
Each group, under the command of a parade commander, was made up of six soldiers.
The collapsed soldier who apparently was exhausted after the assignment slumped and was immediately rushed into an ambulance belonging to the Nigerian Air Force Mobility Command at 10.40am.
The ambulance consequently rushed the soldier to the Government House Medical Centre, where a medical team battled to revive him.