THE joint panel of the National Assembly probing the Dana Air aircraft mishap, which occurred on Sunday, June 3, 2012 in Lagos, brought back the sad memories of the disaster as families of the crash victims and other Nigerians poured out their emotions. yesterday.
When passengers, who flew the airline’s aircraft before the mishap took place, recalled their encounter, saying it was clear that the disaster could have been averted if the proper thing was done.
Emotion and temper of a sort rose high as Mr. Ike C. Ibe, who lost his wife, daughter and a sister-law in the crash, said he was yet to recover from the pains the incident inflicted on him as it swept away all the people that were too dear to him.
He blamed the crash on corruption and premium placed on financial gain rather than human life by the operators and regulators of the industry.
Ibe urged the legislators to ensure full implementation of aviation rules and legislations and regretted that the family members he drove to the airport walked into their untimely death.
“The blood of my family members and others will be a wake-up call for this nation,” he said.
All the 153 passegers, crew members on board the Abuja-Lagos-bound aircraft and six people at the crash site in Iju-Ishaga died in the accident.
Mr. Godwin Ike, who simply described himslef as an observer of trends in the aviation industry, recalled his experience with DANA AIR on July 14, 2010.
According to him, he had arrived at the airport early enough but at 3.00 p.m. when he was supposed to fly, the management said it had been shifted to 4.00 p.m. and then 6.00 p.m.
“When the last passenger boarded, the door was shut but we did not go until 10 minutes later when I got a shock. The pilot apologised for the delay and announced that one engine had come on but the left had not and they needed to do what he described as manual starting.
“I knew that Dana Air was going to put us in a great danger that night. If one of the engines failed, there was no way we could put it on. I got up and announced that the aircraft was not airworthy. I tried to get down but they shouted me down. I insisted and others joined me until they opened the door for those of us that wanted to get down. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Odein Ajumogobia, was in the flight that night. He was not happy about the action I took. He said that if the pilot thought starting the engine manually was risky, he wouldn’t want to fly and risk his life. I told them that if the aircraft crashed, nobody would tell the world the true story. The bubble has been swelling since 2010 before it burst in 2012,” he said.
Some of the aviation stakeholders and regulators at the hearing included National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Aviation Management Agency (MAMA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
They claimed to have done their part in ensuring air safety and assured air travellers in Nigeria that there was no cause for fear because everything possible had been done to forestall future occurrences.
The AIB, which was represented at the panel by Muktar Shuaibu Usman, told the panel that investigations were still on into the cause of Bellview Airline crash seven years ago while that of ADC had been completed but yet to be released.
Usman said the report on Sosoliso was released in July 2010 and was available on AIB website.
The investigation continues today with the Ministry of Aviation, airlines operating in the country and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Earlier, the management of NAMA and NEMA were taken on some issues affecting aviation safety in the country.
It was a solemn moment as scores of Imo residents gathered at Ahiajoku Convention Centre, New Owerri yesterday for the Candle Light Service for 33 victims of the DANA AIR aircraft accident.
At the event, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State announced the immediate donation of N50 million to the families of the victims of the crash, who were indigenes of the state.
He said the state government would soon meet with Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) from Imo to discuss the modalities for suing the management of DANA AIR over the loss of 33 indigenes of the state in the air mishap.
The authorities of the Imo State University, Owerri (IMSU) has held “a day of tribute” for their pioneer Director of Academic Planning and immediate past Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Prof. Celestine Onyemaobi Elihe Onwuliri, who died in the ill-fated plane.
The congregation was shocked when the Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious Affairs, Henrietta Jacobs, disclosed that the number of Imo victims was 33 and not the 23 reported in the media.
The deceased pictures, including Onwuliri, former Group General Manager (Corporate Affairs), Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, wife and daughter of the 2011 governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Ike Ibe, Jennifer and daughter, Nancy, were placed at the venue of the event.
Others were Ogechi Oyeaguocha, Chidinma Onyeaguocha, Oluchi Onyeyiri, Ogechi Njoku, John Paschal Nnadi, Godwin Chijioke Eke and the Anyene family: mother and three children.
The Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has lamented the death of Mrs. Chinwe Catherine Dike in the DANA AIR aircraft accident.
During a condolence visit to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) headquarters in Abuja yesterday where the deceased was a deputy director in the registry before her death, the association described her as a dedicated member, whose life greatly inspired others.
The chairman of the association, Mazi Afam, Osigwe, said the late Mrs. Dike who died alongside her son was always willing to assist customers solved their problems.