* Navy helicopter was flying VIPs to Port Harcourt
* Residents in volatile Kaduna nervous
* Authorities decline to speculate on cause of crash
(Adds presidency statement, Kaduna mood, background)
By Owolabi Tife
YENAGOA, Nigeria, Dec 15 The governor of
Nigeria's volatile Kaduna state and a former national security
adviser were among six killed when a helicopter crashed in the
southerly oil-producing Bayelsa state on Saturday, officials
The helicopter wobbled in the sky before nose-diving into a
forest in Ogbia Creek at around 3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT), a local
resident who witnessed the crash told Reuters.
"By the time we got to the scene it was in flames," said
Hitler Adunion, a local community leader. "We tried to put them
out but it was difficult. We saw the roasted bodies of those
The Nigerian Navy confirmed that its Agusta
helicopter had crashed while carrying VIPs to Port Harcourt but
it didn't give a reason and civilian authorities declined to
speculate on the cause. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered an
"(The) President has expressed utter shock and sadness over
the crash ... (he) extends deep and heartfelt condolences to the
families and friends of the deceased," a statement from the
The statement confirmed the deaths of Kaduna state governor
Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, former national security adviser General
Owoye Azazi, their aides Dauda Tsoho and Mohammed Kamal and the
two pilots, Muritala Mohammed Daba and Adeyemi Sowole.
Yakowa won a tight vote last year to become Kaduna's first
Christian governor, under the ruling People's Democratic Party
ticket. He replaced Namadi Sambo, who is now vice president.
Kaduna sits on the borderline between the mostly Christian
south and the largely Muslim north of Africa's most populous
nation and has been at the heart of religious conflict.
Hundreds of people were killed in Kaduna state in clashes
between ethnic and religious groups last April after Jonathan, a
Christian southerner, won a presidential vote against his Muslim
northern rival Muhammadu Buhari.
Kaduna was quiet on Saturday evening but some residents said
they were nervous.
"I just had to rush down to my house because this is Kaduna
state and anything can happen, we can't forget the election
crisis when a lot of lives and properties were lost," local
resident Maxell Danjuma told Reuters.
Islamist sect Boko Haram has bombed several churches in
Kaduna since an uprising in 2009. The sect has killed hundreds
this year in its effort to carve out an Islamic state in a
country of 160 million split between Christians and Muslims.
The 36 state governors are among the most powerful
politicians in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, often
controlling budgets bigger than those of many African countries.
Azazi had been a close adviser to Jonathan but was sacked in
June as Nigeria struggled to stem Boko Haram's attacks, which
focus on politicians, security forces and religious targets.
Several high-profile politicians had travelled to Bayelsa,
Jonathan's home state, this weekend for a funeral.
Like many African countries, Nigeria has a poor air safety
Nigeria's deputy police chief and three other officers were
killed when a helicopter crashed in the central city of Jos in
In June, a passenger plane crashed into a densely populated
part of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, killing 163 people.
(Additional reporting by Isaac Abrak, Camillus Eboh, Felix
Onuah and Segun Owen; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Stephen