News of plane crashes yesterday caused panic in some areas of Lagos metropolis, with some residents of the areas rushing out of their apartments to be sure they are safe.
The news of the plane crashes were circulated via social media, with a warning to loved ones to avoid places such as Igando, Ojo/Iyana-Iba, Lasu/Isheri Road, Sanya, along the Oshodi/Apapa expressway and Mangoro on the Lagos/Abeokuta expressway.
It was however discovered that a disused aircraft might have been the origin of the panic. The aircraft which reports say belongs to the late founder of Bethel Ministries, Dr Gabriel Oduyemi, was reportedly intercepted by military personnel along the Ojo/Iyana-Iba expressway.
Nobody could explain how the plane got to that location though, but eyewitnesses said it landed mysteriously about 2 a.m yesterday, in Dapsey fuel station, with patrol vans all over the place.
The aircraft with number N972TF fully loaded with unknown materials, had the inscription ‘Gabriel Oduyemi World Outreach’. It had its two wings broken, with brownish patches suspected to have developed from a long period of disuse.
A fuel attendant at the scene who could have offered more information on the incident was prevented from speaking to newsmen by security operatives.
An official of the Aviation International Bureau, Engr. Tunde Adedoyin, said that from preliminary investigation, the incident was not an accident.
“What we have done so far is to find out if it was an accident situation. From our preliminary interviews we discovered that the plane was towed to the fuel station.
“The aircraft was almost causing an accident on the road before it was brought into the fuel station. It was in the process of being diverted that it lost one of its back tyres, according to the reports we got.”
Following the widespread rumour of a crash, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, has said there was no plane crash anywhere in Lagos particularly in Igando, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos. Rather, it explained that the disused plane seen in Igando was a junk aircraft belonging to late Apostle Gabriel Oduyemi of Bethel Ministries and had long been parked at a NAMA facility up till Wednesday night when it was eventually removed.
In a statement, yesterday, Managing Director of NAMA, Engr. Mazi Nnamdi Udoh, said the system of the agency did not capture any missing plane, noting that there could not have been any plane crash without the aircraft first reported missing in the agency’s system.
“This morning, we were inundated with phone calls and inquiries over a crash involving a small aircraft but there is nothing like that, it is a hoax because our system did not capture any missing plane. The aircraft was actually released to Captain M.J.Ekehinde who will be using it for educational purposes in Badagry, Lagos. A cross section of the wings was removed to ease transportation to its new location. I affirm again that NAMA facilities are working at optimal level and this could have assisted in detecting any missing plane within the nation’s airspace.
“While we appreciate the concern of the public on sighting the plane at an unusual place, we urge that people should always contact the police and local government officials for proper information before spreading the news on incident involving any aircraft.”
Spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye also said: “NEMA has debunked story of plane crash around Igando or Mangoro by social media. There is no crash. But they are trying to remove scraps of unused aircraft from the airport vicinity and people thought it was a crash.”
Another aircraft was sighted at Sanya bus-top along the Oshodi/Apapa expressway, with the metals on the wings eating away. There was a crowd around the bus-stop, with a man in Air Force uniform there. Just like the one found in Igando, no one could tell how the aircraft found its way there.
Investigation however revealed that the aircraft seen in various places in town may not be unconnected with the recent one-week ultimatum issued by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, to owners of abandoned airplanes across the nation, saying they constituted security threat to the country.