On 30 July, the Chairperson/Chief Executive Officer of Josepdam Group of Companies, Mrs Josephine Kuteyi, was identified as one of the unfortunate casualties of the helicopter crash in Osun State the previous day, in which three people died.
According to Dr Harold Demuren, Director General of the National Civil Aviation Authority, Mrs Kuteyi, who was on a chartered flight from Lagos to Ilorin, died with her Personal Assistant, Mrs Adedoyin Ogunbanjo and the Filipino pilot of the aircraft.
Until her tragic death, Mrs Kuteyi, aged 57, was an astute businesswoman. She was presiding over the Lagos-based Josepdam Group of Companies, a diversified conglomerate with interests in port operations (including bulk and general cargo handling), real estate, logistics, agro-allied services as well as sugar manufacturing, refining, packaging and distribution.
In 2006, Josepdam successfully bidded for, and acquired, the moribund Nigerian Sugar Company (NISUCO), at a cost of about 40 million USD, giving birth to the group’s sugar company, Josepdam Sugar Company Limited, based in Bacita, Kwara State. Industry sources said Mrs Kuteyi’s business acumen transformed the old dying company, bringing it back to good health.
The cause of the crash is not yet known. Demuren said the aircraft, with registration 5N-BKA belonging to OAS Helicopter Services, was flying very low before it crashed into very high hills. Mr. Ishaya Isah Choloko, South West Zonal Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said poor visibility in bad weather as well as the difficult terrain of the area might have contributed to the accident. The spokesman for the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr Tunji Oketunbi, said the bureau had commenced investigations and that the public would be updated in due course.
The Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, expressed deep regret and offered condolences to the families of the victims. The Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiewonyi, also issued a statement expressing sadness over the incident and condoling with the victims’ families.
Reports said the remains of the victims had been collected by Mrs Kuteyi’s husband and taken to Lagos.
Mrs Kuteyi was, until her death, a senior pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). She was also a philanthropist, and one church member described her as “exuberant, with a heart that had room for everyone”.
[1. This is an updated version of our initial report, published shortly after the bodies were recovered].
2. See also our earlier report on the crash, titled: “Helicopter crash kills three in Osun State: Bodies recovered”, also published on this website].