By a stroke of luck, what could have been a national tragedy was averted on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 when a private jet owned by billionaire businessman, Chief Adedeji Adeleke, caught fire at take-off point at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, multiple sources familiar with the incident told LEADERSHIP on Saturday.
Chief Adeleke is the father of Afrobeat musician, David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido. He is also the brother of Osun State governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
Chief Adeleke owns the Bombadier Global Express 6000 involved in the incident. The jet is used as a family plane by the Adelekes.
The incident happened at the domestic wing of the airport at about 9am on the fateful day when the jet was about to take off from Lagos to Abuja.
However, the incident wasn’t formally communicated to the concerned aviation regulatory authorities, a development that is against standard protocol.
Reports indicated that the jet, with Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, on board and his top aides at the time of the incident, had taxied to the end of the runway, shortly before departure, when a loud explosion was heard from the engine of the jet, causing it to abort take-off immediately.
“No deaths or injuries were reported, and other passengers in the plane as of the time of the incident could not be ascertained,” a source privy to the development told our correspondent.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the jet had been parked at the Executive Jet hanger of the Airport before it was deployed on September 5.
Multiple sources confided in LEADERSHIP that even though there were no injuries or deaths recorded from the incident, however, all parties including the Airport authorities, the Osun State Government and the owners of the private hanger have been desperate to ensure that the news of the incident doesn’t get to the public domain.
Attempts by LEADERSHIP to speak with Governor Adeleke or any of his aides were unsuccessful as at press time on Saturday. Even though one of the passengers on the plane, who did not want to be named, confided in our correspondent that foul play was being suspected from the hangar operators as both engines of the aircraft were damaged.
However, the chief executive officer (CEO), Executive Jets, owners of the hangar where the private jet was parked, Sam Iwuajoku, disclosed that the private jet had Foreign Object Damage (FOD) that made the aircraft experienced high temperature, which resulted into the explosion.
According to him, the FOD was caused by a bird nest in one of the engines of the jet.
“At take-off, the engine had high temperature and it was caused by bird nest in one of the engines of the aircraft. It happens when an aircraft is parked and not properly covered so, birds will build their nest and anything they bring into the aircraft can spark high temperature.
“It happened to one of my aircraft in 2021, we had to remove the engine and the engine was in Germany for 14 months. So, it’s a common thing in Africa because we have birds around,” he stated.
But, credible sources told LEADERSHIP that the internationally renowned musician, Davido, had used the plane the previous day, September 4, putting a lie to Iwuajoku of Executive Jets’ account of the incident.
Meanwhile, efforts to get confirmation from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) proved abortive as calls and text messages placed to its director-general, Capt. Musa Nuhu, were not replied as at the time of filing this report on Saturday.
However, a reliable source confided in our correspondent that the incident wasn’t reported to the NCAA as the Air Worthiness Department of the Authority wasn’t aware of the incident.
The source, who craved anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to speak on the matter, said: “NCAA isn’t aware of this incident because the Air Worthiness Department is not aware.” (Leadership)