Tears, protests as Nigerians remember Dana crash victims

• Victim’s name missing on the cenotaph
• Hurriya Lawal, the living, listed among the dead
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor, and Gbenga Akinfenwa

Monument at the crash site in Iju Ishaga, Lagos on June 3, 2013

Monument at the crash site in Iju Ishaga, Lagos on June 3, 2013

YESTERDAY clocked exactly a year since the quiet Iju-Ishaga community of Lagos lost its serenity after it was robbed of peace by the cruel angel of death. The dawn of the day was ordinary and thankfully, was devoid of the rain showers that had soaked Lagos in the last three days.
The brightness of the sun in the early hours of the first working day of the new month was a relief to most Lagosians who had set out early for the day’s task, but in the homes of relatives of nearly 160 people who perished in the ill-fated Dana crash, June 3 was a gloomy reminder of their personal tragedies.
The scene of last year’s mishap was recreated yesterday when family members of victims and residents of Iju-Ishaga gathered at the crash site where the Lagos State government erected a cenotaph in honour of the victims. The only difference was the temperate wailings of victims’ family members. At the one-year memorial, the loud outburst of victims’ families last year gave way to tear-soaked eyes and a long solemn gaze at the cenotaph amidst pockets of protests by residents.

A TALE OF TWO MONUMENTS - Jonathan's wreath at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja... thousands of miles away from the crash site.

A TALE OF TWO MONUMENTS – Jonathan’s wreath at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja… thousands of miles away from the crash site.


A TALE OF TWO MONUMENTS - Governor Fashola at the actual crash site in Iju Ishaga

A TALE OF TWO MONUMENTS – Governor Fashola at the actual crash site in Iju Ishaga

Three hundred and sixty-five days was, however, a short time to douse the pains the most tragic air incident in recent times brought to the families of the deceased. This was visibly felt in the mood of those who were present while the short ceremony of sober speeches lasted. Among those present were Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola and his wife, Dame Abimbola, representative of the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, management of Dana Airline, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa and members of the state House of Assembly.
Fashola, who wore a mournful look throughout the event, recalled that on that fateful Sunday afternoon, the men, women and children in the ill-fated Dana Air Flight 992 had journeyed more than 700km from Abuja to Lagos and were minutes away from arrival when the incident occurred. “I know it will take a while for the tragic memories of your great losses to heal, but you must carry on, not just because you have to carry on but because your loved ones would want and expect you to,” he said.
Ashafa, who spoke after the laying of wreath at the crash site, said: “The incident that occurred a year ago on this site is really unfortunate and disheartening, there is no amount of compensation that can bring the dead back to life. I want to appeal to all the families affected that God Almighty will give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
The lawmaker also called on the aviation sector to carry out a rigorous investigation into the cause of the crash, as a way to prevent future occurrence of the unfortunate incident.

President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, placing wreath at a symbolic monument in honour of the Dana crash victims. They were missing in action at the scene of actual event in Lagos

President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, placing wreath at a symbolic monument in honour of the Dana crash victims. They were missing in action at the scene of actual event in Lagos


A YEAR AGO, THEY WERE GRIEVING TOGETHER... President Jonathan wiping tears during his visit to the crash site, while Fashola looks on

A YEAR AGO, THEY WERE GRIEVING TOGETHER… President Jonathan wiping tears during his visit to the crash site, while Fashola looks on

Towards the end of the ceremony, a mild drama that could have led to rancour ensued, but for the timely intervention of officials of the Lagos State government, when a man protested that a relative of his, Hurriya Lawal, who is alive, was listed among the dead, instead of Maria Abuyere.
He was gagged from speaking to the press on the issue but when later cornered, he said Hurriya Lawal, whose name was among other victims of the Dana crash, had actually bought ticket but didn’t join the flight. According to him, one Maria Abuyere, used her ticket.
It was also discovered that instead of 157 names officially classified as victims of the crash, only 156 names were inscribed on the cenotaph, with one victim’s name missing. As at the time of going to press, the missing name on the roll call was yet to be ascertained.
Outside the fortified premises of the crash site, aggrieved residents of the area, under the umbrella of ‘Ground Victims of Dana Plane Crash’, displaying placards of various inscriptions like ‘One Year Later No Compensation’, ‘Why We Are Suffering, Dana Is Flying’ and “We’ll Like To Have Dana For Dinner”, among others, protested the nonchalant attitude of the airline to their plight. They claimed that the Community Development Association (CDA), headed by Chief Adewale Oriowo, has sold them off in negotiations with the airline.

Residents of the area and ground victims protesting their abandonment by Dana

Residents of the area and ground victims protesting their abandonment by Dana

Some of the deceased families who spoke with The Guardian under the condition of anonymity, said the delay in the release of the final accident report on Dana, a year after, showed the negligence on the part of government, which means that their loved ones had died in vain. Though the spokesman of Dana Air, Tony Usidamen, disclosed that some families have been fully compensated as at May 25, 2013, many of them still claimed they are yet to be given anything.
One of the aggrieved residents, Pastor Daniel Omowunmi, whose house the ill-fated plane crashed into, has been crying of neglect. Aside the duplex building, his two warehouses, and another property, were razed to the ground in the aftermath of the incident. His absence at the memorial spoke volumes of how badly he had been treated by the airline and the state government.
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When contacted on phone, he confirmed to The Guardian he has not been compensated by the airline one year after the incident. “My demands remain that I should be reinstated to my former position or given its equivalent of properties lost in cash.”
He added that the state government took over the land where the cenotaph is built from him without compensation despite being in possession of his Certificate of Occupancy (CoO), which, according to him, was not to knowledge of the governor.
About 10 people on the ground lost their lives as the Lagos bound aircraft from Abuja carrying 153 passengers, crashed into the two-storey building.

Hurriya Lawal... The living among the dead's roll call of honour

Hurriya Lawal… The living among the dead’s roll call of honour

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Iju-Ishaga…Residents’ Endless Wait For Dana Succour

By Tope Templer Olaiya

The crash site at Olaniyi Street, Iju-Ishaga

The crash site at Olaniyi Street, Iju-Ishaga


IT’S over seven months since the quiet Iju-Ishaga community of Lagos lost its serenity after it was robbed of peace by the cruel angel of death. Thankfully, its former state has been restored and the shock of the disaster is wearing off.

For residents of the area, particularly those on Olaniyi Street, where the Dana Air Flight 0992 crashed into, last week’s resumption of flights by Dana Air has brought to fore gory memories of June 3, 2012, the black Sunday afternoon, when in a moment, their places of abode became a crash site, and hours later, turned into a tourist spot, attracting citizens and dignitaries alike.

While the incident has been reduced on one hand to bickering between the National Assembly and aviation authorities on the restoration of Dana’s operating license, and on the other hand between the airline and families of victims over compensation, the crash site has been left to waste.

The bare space of land measuring about 10 plots has been cleared of plane fragments, building debris and burnt bodies, where a six-storey building, warehouse and a publishing firm once stood. But as the clock gradually ticks towards the first anniversary of the crash, residents eagerly awaits the fulfillment of promises made in the wake of the incident to the community.

Wreckage of the ill-fated Dana crash of June 3, being removed at Iju Ishaga, agege, Lagos.

Wreckage of the ill-fated Dana crash of June 3, being removed at Iju Ishaga, agege, Lagos.


Owner of the six-storey building and publishing firm, Daniel Oluranti, has instituted legal action against the carrier, same for the community through the Akande Community Development Association (CDA). Oluranti is claiming N500 million for building structure consisting of a six bedroom duplex with penthouse, four bedroom bungalow with two large sitting rooms, two standard warehouse and four fish ponds valued at N172,530,960.

Others are factory equipment, plants, machines valued at N15,380,000; electronics/appliances worth N4,527,000; livestock fish in the pond costing N2,025,000; kitchen utensils and many other valuables estimated at N40 million, which were all lost to the air tragedy.

He explained that after the delivery of his letter of claim dated June 20, 2012, the representative of Dana Airlines got in touch with him and requested for a meeting. “The meeting was held at my solicitor’s office where the airline’s representative offered me N500,000 as a temporary relief.

“I felt insulted by this high level of insensitivity on the part of the airline and I questioned how the N500,000 offered me will address the inconveniences and torture my family have been subjected to. Naturally, I rejected the offer.” Oluranti disclosed that since the incident, his family has been surviving purely on the grace of God and assistance from friends and the church.

President Jonathan wiping tears during his visit to the crash site, while Fashola looks on

President Jonathan wiping tears during his visit to the crash site, while Fashola looks on


Chairman of Akande CDA, Mr. Adewale Oriowo, told The Guardian that the community had engaged the services of a lawyer to negotiate compensation on behalf of the community, particularly those who lost properties. “Up till now, nothing has happened. We have not heard anything from Dana and we are not captured in their compensation scheme.

“The only concluded case we followed up was the children taken away by Governor Fashola, as they have been handed over to a family member. The Deputy Governor called sometime last year to inform me that a Major General came forward as a family member and the children have been handed over to him.

“At the moment, the community needs to be reimbursed for the money we spent to make the area conducive to the throng of visitors who trooped here immediately after the crash. Many of the access roads to the site were not motorable and we immediately had to mobilise for it to be graded so that emergency agencies such as LASEMA, NEMA and Red Cross, can carry out their rescue operations effectively.

“Up till now, the bill has not been refunded. However, we heard from the media that some roads in this area have been marked for reconstruction, which we hope would be captured in the 2013 budget. The governor also promised a cenotaph in memory of those who died, but we have high expectations that before the first year anniversary in June, most of the demands by the community would have been met. We have, however, not heard a word from the airline,” he said.

There are ongoing concerns about the fate of Oluranti, who among other things wants to reclaim his land. This is a subject of controversy as the crash site has been taken over by the state with plans to immortalize the victims with a mausoleum.

The Mango tree that clipped the right wing of the ill-fated craft

The Mango tree that clipped the right wing of the ill-fated craft


Paul Anozie of No. 5 Okusanya Street, Iju Ishaga, recalled how his building was saved by a tree planted in front of his house. “In all things, we have to thank God for life though nothing has been given to those whose properties are destroyed. I know this because I am a casualty.

“My fence and gate was razed down but for the mango tree, it could have been more. The right wing of the aeroplane was caught in the tree. The wing was cut off while the plane veered off and crashed into the building on Olaniyi Street. They said they would come and we waited for weeks without seeing anybody.

“I can’t keep waiting for them while my house remains exposed. I spent over N300,000 to erect a new fence and gate. The only thing government did here was to erect concrete electric poles to replace the wooden ones brought down by the plane. We were also lucky there was no electricity at the time of the incident.”
Dana 3
According to company sources, the airline has paid a 30 per cent part compensation of N4.95 million ($30,000) each to 90 of the 153 vicims of the ill-fated plane crash, with a promise to redeem the 70 percent balance of N11.55 million ($70,000) each as soon as possible.

“The crash was a very shocking incident for us. We have visited every family that was affected in the crash. Of the 153 victims’ family, only 125 submitted back information for the processing of their insurance claims. So far 90 families have received their 30 per cent interim payment. The insurance companies are still processing the remaining 35 victims’ claims,” Mbanuzor Obialor, Head, Commercial of Dana Air, said.

2012… Air Crashes Too Many In Nigeria

By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA
Six years after a Nigerian 18-seater Dornier 228 Air Force transport plane, carrying 15 senior army officers and three crewmembers crashed leaving only three survivors that sustained serious injuries on September 17, 2006, 2012 will go down in history as the year that recorded the most recurrence of plane crashes in the country since the first recorded incident, which happened on January 22, 1973, when Royal Jordanian Airlines flight 707, carrying 171 Nigerian Muslims returning from Mecca crashed in Kano, killing five crewmen.

Wreckage of the ill-fated Dana crash of June 3, being removed at Iju Ishaga, agege, Lagos.

Wreckage of the ill-fated Dana crash of June 3, being removed at Iju Ishaga, agege, Lagos.

Though air transportation is seen as the fastest and safest of the three forms of transportation; water, land and air, but it is not short of its disasters.
The first of five crashes that threw the country into national mourning this year was on Wednesday, March 14, when a helicopter conveying the newly promoted Deputy Inspector General of Police, Haruna John, with three other senior police officers crashed in Jos. The Police helicopter was to convey the officers from Jos to Abuja, and took off from the Jos prison field. However, after one and half kilometer of flight, it crashed into a house where the occupants were said to have escaped before the planed finally crash landed.

President Goodluck Jonathan (left) and Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) at the scene of the Dana Air plane crash in Lagos.                        PHOTO: PAUL OLOKO

President Goodluck Jonathan (left) and Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) at the scene of the Dana Air plane crash in Lagos… June 5, 2012. PHOTO: PAUL OLOKO

Just before Sunday, June 3, when the nation was thrown into mourning again as a Dana Airlines Flight 9J 992 carrying 153 passengers on board crashed into Iju-Ishaga, a densely populated residential area of Lagos, killing all passengers on board, a Nigerian cargo plane, attempting to take off from the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, crashed few hours earlier on Saturday night, killing 10 people and injuring an unspecified number of others. The plane smashed through the airport’s fence before slamming into cars and a bus loaded with passengers on a nearby street.
Four months after, precisely October 25, governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai and five of his aides narrowly escaped death when a Cessna 208 aircraft marked 5N-BMJ and was piloted by Suntai, reportedly lost contact with the Yola Control Tower 38 miles to landing, after leaving Jalingo, the Taraba State capital and crashed into a hill in Adamawa.

Late Yakowa (right) with Special Assistant to the President on Research and Documentation, Oronto Douglas (left) and Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson at the burial in Okoroba, Bayelsa ... shortly before the crash

Late Yakowa (right) with Special Assistant to the President on Research and Documentation, Oronto Douglas (left) and Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson at the burial in Okoroba, Bayelsa … shortly before the crash


Just when the nation thought they had seen an end to air crashes for 2012, the nation was jolted with the news of four persons, including Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and former National Security Adviser to the president, General Owoeye Azazi, who were reportedly burnt in a helicopter crash that occurred in the forest of Okoroba community in Nembe local government of Bayelsa State.
Suntai-crash

HERE is a chronicle of some recent plane crashes in Nigeria.
December 10, 2005 – A Nigerian Sosoliso Airlines DC-9 crashes in Port Harcourt, killing all 103 on board. Most on board were school children going home for Christmas.
October 22, 2005 – A Nigerian Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 airliner with 117 people on board crashes and disintegrates in flames shortly after take-off from Lagos. All on board killed.
May 4, 2002 – Nigerian EAS Airlines’ BAC 1-11-500 with 105 people on board crashed and burst into flames in a poor, densely populated suburb of Kano killing 76 on board and 72 on the ground, a total of 148 dead.

The first of the casualties of air crashed in 2012,late DIG John Haruna

The first of the casualties of air crashed in 2012,late DIG John Haruna

November 7, 1996 – A Nigerian ADC (Aviation Development Corporation) Airline Boeing 727-231 flying from Port Harcourt to Lagos with 142 passengers and nine crew members crashed on landing, plunging into a lagoon with all on board killed.
November 13, 1995 – Nigeria Airways Boeing 737-2F9 crashes on landing in Kaduna killing nine.
June 24, 1995 – Harka Air Services Tupolev 34 crashes on landing in Lagos killing 16.