Families of Dana plane crash offer to wait for bodies, no matter how long it takes for identification
Cross section of the bereaved family members, friends, members of the diplomatic community, representatives of aviation regulatory and health agencies during a meeting with Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on the Dana Air plane crash of last Sunday held at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos, on Sunday, June 10, 2012.
WorldStage Newsonline-- Some families and members of the diplomatic community whose members and nationals died in the Dana Air plane crash of June 3, 2012 have indicated that they would wait to take the procession of the bodies of their love ones as long as it will take the government to identify them.
This with other far-reaching decisions were taken on the way forward, during a meeting they had with the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Sunday .
The meeting, held behind closed doors, took place at the Lagos House, Ikeja, and also had in attendance top officials of the Aviation industry the Chief Medical Examiner of the State, Professor Oladapo Obafunwa as well as religious leaders.
Fielding questions from newsmen after the meeting which lasted for several hours, Governor Fashola said it was informed by the need to make information more detailed and more available to the families to enable them know what the State Government is doing concerning the identification and release of the bodies of their departed loved ones and what they should expect next.
Governor Fashola, who disclosed that some vital decisions were taken at the meeting, pointed out that the families agreed with the processes Government is pursuing, which is to investigate and identify the bodies before releasing them to the various families adding that the people indicated their willingness to cooperate with Government.
“They indicated that as long as this takes, they are prepared to wait. That is one decision that we took”, the Governor said adding, “We have set up now a relationship team from Government and who will be communicating specifically with them.
“They have agreed to constitute some of their members to be representatives on the team so that we have a more coordinated approach to communication, sharing information, managing the release of bodies that can be identified and generally working through all of the twists and turns that it will take”, the Governor said.
Describing the process as very painful and very tedious, Governor Fashola, however, expressed confidence that success would be achieved at the end of it all adding that the meeting was useful in helping both the Government and the families to chart a common course going forward.
On why the State Government has decided to take the actions it is now taking, Governor Fashola declared, “The accident happened in our State, these are citizens, these are taxpayers, the Government has to stand up for its citizens and that is the simple reason we are doing what we are doing”.
“We are doing our job; we are not doing anything special here. We must empathize, we must respond, people must look to us; that is why they voted and we hope that our best will be enough”, the Governor said.
Some of the details of the meeting made available to newsmen revealed that some of the family members of the victims expressed gratitude to the Lagos State Government for working assiduously towards the identification and release the bodies of their relations in order to take them home for proper burial as well as generally caring even though the obligations for aviation management was a federal one.
One of the bereaved family members, Dr. Benjamin Iyene, pleaded with the Lagos State Government to do everything in its power to ensure that they get the bodies of their relations pointing out that Nigerians are very attached to their dead.
Dr. Iyene, who said he lost nine family members in the crash, suggested that a small work group, comprising government officials and some members of the victims’ families including affected members of the diplomatic corps, be set up to continue to work on the process of identification and release of bodies to their respective families
Noting that the process is a tedious and long one, Dr. Iyene who also commended the State Government for doing its best in the matter, however, urge the Government to do more. “It is very tedious, it is a very long process, but we think Your Excellency should not give up. You should work harder. If the Federal Government doesn’t want to support you, go ahead and do what must be done for the sake of everybody”, he said.
With a voice laden with emotion, Dr. Iyene said, “Because of the way we are, we Nigerians are very, very attached to the dead. Two days ago, my Vicar in the village called me that they heard that three children woke up adding, “I replied, ‘is it possible? If people are put in the mortuary for at least five days, how can they wake up? Nobody has woken up. So we have to manage the environment”.
Thanking the State Government for all its efforts since the unfortunate incident to assuage the sorrows of those who lost loved ones, Dr. Iyene told his colleagues, “If we stay here for the next one hour, emotions will be running down. My fellow grief-stricken people, this man does not have the solutions or answers to all our questions because the State Government does not own or manage aviation. There is no Ministry of Aviation in Lagos State, Ministry of Aviation is owned by the Federal Government; so he is trying to help; let’s work with him and help ourselves”.
Also present at the meeting were the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, his Special Duties counterpart, Dr. Wale Ahmed, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaiye, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, Special Adviser on Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Yewande Adeshina, Professor of Pathology and Chief Medical Examiner of the State, Professor Oladapo Obafunwa, Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, members of the diplomatic corps and other top government functionaries.