Disaster was averted at Murtala Mohammed International Airport on Wednesday as 393 passengers, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, escaped air crash, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Other prominent Nigerians in the Ethiopian airline passenger aircraft, Boeing 777-300, included the Director General of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Amb. Ayoola Olukanni.
Also in the plane was Prof Samson Tunde Adebayo, the Director of Ports Inspection, National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control as well as scores of Nigerians and other nationals.
The passenger aircraft, ET-901, had departed the Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, at about 9:10 a.m., Ethiopian time; 7:00 a.m Nigerian time.
A NAN correspondent, who was among the passengers, reported that the almost five-hour flight from the Ethiopian capital to Lagos had been smooth until the pilot attempted to land at the Murtala Mohammed International airport.
Rather than landing on the first touchline of the runway, the pilot overshot it, due to rain and heavy wind, landing on the third touchline.
NAN reports that on realising this, the pilot quickly manoeuvred the plane back into the air, flying out of the Lagos airport.
After hovering between Lagos and areas suspected to be in Ogun State, causing panic among passengers and crew members, the plane finally landed at the Lagos airport, some 20 minutes after the initial false landing.
The atmosphere in the airbus upon landing was a replica of what was obtainable in some Nigerian worship centres, as many passengers broke out into worship songs and clapping, while some fell to their knees in prayer.
Officials of the NCAA were unable to confirm the incident as the General Manager, Public Relations of the agency, Mr Sam Adurogboye, said there was no report of any incident in Lagos so far, while the General Manager, Public Relations, Accident Investigation Bureau, Mr Tunji Oketunbi, said he had not received any incident notification from any airline.
NAN checks from the Control Tower also gave the same report.
But the Duty Manager and Chief Customer Service (Nigeria) of the airline, Mr Otori Otan, told NAN that if the pilot had continued taxing down after landing on the third touchline, he would have overshot the runway.
“But this is an experienced pilot. He realised this immediately.
“Fortunately, the distance between when he realised the situation still permitted him to take off and renegotiate landing,” Otori said.
He added that the incident was not out of place while confirming that the wind obscured the pilot’s vision.
“These things happen. That is where the sophistication of the aircraft and experience of the cabin crew members come in.
“The aircraft is one of the best you can have around and we are fortunate to have pilots who know their onions,” Otori said.
Obasanjo and Olukanni had both attended a Stakeholders Dialogue on Continental Trade and Strengthening Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which ended on Tuesday in Addis Ababa.