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Obasanjo, aides in near air mishap

Posted by By LUCKY NWANKWERE, Abuja on 2006/05/17 | Views: 322 |

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Obasanjo, aides in near air mishap


President Olusegun Obasanjo and his aides escaped death by the whiskers on Tuesday as the new presidential aircraft developed fault soon after take off on the way to France.

President Olusegun Obasanjo and his aides escaped death by the whiskers on Tuesday as the new presidential aircraft developed fault soon after take off on the way to France.

The almost N10 billion new presidential aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 business jet, delivered to the country only two weeks ago, was taking the president and his aides to France for undisclosed reasons.

Daily Sun was told that about 15 minutes after take-off, the plane suddenly lost cabin pressure, resulting in the oxygen masks dropping for the President and members of his delegation to aid their breathing while there were spirited efforts to find out what the problem was all about.

"We were reliably told that the temperature inside the presidential jet got so high soon afterwards that everyone was said to be sweating profusely leading the pilots of the jet to make a detour and return to base," a source said.

There was unconfirmed report that soon after the plane landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, there was complete electrical failure which experts said would have resulted in a crash had the pilots not acted swiftly by aborting the flight and returning to base.
The new state-of-the-art aircraft, with breath-taking interior for the comfort of the president, was on its second official international flight.

According to airport sources, there was stampede by those aboard the aircraft, including senior presidential aides, security operatives, cabin crew and journalists as soon as the plane landed on the tarmac, with everyone struggling to get to safety .
The rear exit of the airplane was thrown open for the panicky passengers to disembark after which the jet was towed into the hangar.

President Obasanjo, it was further learnt, insisted on making the trip to France and so a smaller aircraft in the fleet was quickly fetched for the journey. However, many of the passengers were dropped, partly as a result of the size of the aircraft as well as their unwillingness to continue the trip.
This will be the second time in one month that the presidential plane would be involved in a near accident. Three weeks ago, the presidentís former aircraft was unable to sail into the sky owing to what officials termed weather problems.

A statement from presidential spokeswoman, Mrs. Remi Oyo, said President Olusegun Obasanjo was in Paris, France to attend the UNESCO presentation ceremony of the Houphouet Boigny Prize for the Search of Peace.

She said the presidentís journey from Abuja was delayed because of a technical problem which caused a change of aircraft which later conveyed the President and his entourage to the French capital.

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