By Paul Jongas, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Nigeria
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– The governor of Nigeria’s troubled northern Kaduna state, who was known for promoting reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, has been killed with five other people in a helicopter crash, his party said Saturday, December 15.
Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and former national security adviser General Owoye Azazi were among the six people who died when the helicopter came down in Bayelsa state, announced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Other victims were identified as Dauda Tsoho, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal, and pilots Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba and Lieutenant.Adeyemi O Sowole.
“The nation has lost a great patriot who in about two years in saddle as the Governor of Kaduna State demonstrated an unyielding capacity in wielding together varying fragile interests,” the PDP added in a statement.
Kaduna is known for violence against Christians. The Islamist militants of Boko Haram have frequently targeted Kaduna churches as part of a campaign to drive Christians away and establish an Islamic state.
Christian rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it was shocked about the governor’s death and expressed its “deepest condolences” to his family, friends and Kaduna state.
“Governor Yakowa was a symbol of peace and reconciliation, a gentleman to the core,” said Reverend Yunusa Nmadu, chief executive officer of CSW Nigeria.
“We are shaken to our very foundations, and are asking the Church worldwide for prayers for the families of all who lost their lives, for the peace of our state, and for the incoming governor,” he said.
POOR SAFETY RECORD
Nigerian media said the crashed helicopter belonged to the Nigerian navy and had been taking officials to Port Harcourt.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, but Nigeria has a poor air safety record, analysts say.
In March a police helicopter carrying a high-ranking police official crashed in the central city of Jos, killing four people. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).