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Tragic End of the People’s Pilot: Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe

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Author: Eric Osagie
Posted to the web: 6/19/2005 2:42:23 PM

No more will he fly. No longer will his angry voice ring out at the ills afflicting the nation’s aviation industry. Never again will any one in authority, no matter how high his status, hound and harass him, for his activist views, which they often found too pungent and too frank. He is dead. Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, first class pilot [according to his colleagues], activist, humanist, critic, patriot [he certainly loved his country], is no more.The people’s pilot has gone on his last and final flight, flight of no return. Ironically, he didn’t die in a fatal plane crash. He died on land. His life wasbrutally abridged on a cold Lagos street, inside his car by evil men, still at large. How sad. How tragic. How pathetic. How terrifying.My friend, Mayor Akinpelu, the publisher/editor-in-chief of Global Excellence, was the guy who broke the sad news to me from Lagos. As he spoke, you could feel the pain, the tears in his voice. 'Jerry Agbeyegbe has been shot dead in Lagos,' he said. 'Jerry, killed? By whom?' I asked. Of course, the last question was stupid. How would he or any one know, if Nigerians ever will, who killed Agbeyegbe? How many such deaths are ever unraveled in this country? One fact though: Jerry’s tragic death has, however, left many Nigerians shocked and weeping. A floodgate of tears and outpouring of grief envelopes the land on the horrific murder of a man for whom the flying business was more than just a means of livelihood. Even as I write this piece, I am weeping inside. I am weeping for a man cut down tragically in the bloom of his life. I am weeping for a family that now has to mourn the cruel exit of its bread winner. I am weeping for a nation that has sold its soul to the devil. A nation filled with some demented characters who think nothing of killing other citizens to settle perceived wrong doing or for whatever reason. You only needed to see his bullet-ridden body in the newspapers to be horrified at the bestiality of the guys that carried out such cruelty. Such inhumanity of man to his fellow man. According to media reports, Agbeyegbe was blasted to death by over 29 bullets fired into his chest by the deadly gun men. The guys obviously wanted to make no mistake in accomplishing their mission. But then, what could Jerry have done so bad, that any one would choose to waste him in such sadistic manner? Whose powerful toes could he have stepped on, that must have thought that killing the popular and amiable pilot was the best way to even scores? Jerry was an aviation activist who all his life had battled to restore aviation practice to its optimum level of professionalism. At every forum, he decried the decadence and corruption in that sector. His was a lone voice in the drive to restore sanity to the sector. Through his Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative, NASI, Jerry spoke out against the outright ban on Slok Air, which in his view could never be rationalized. The punishment, he argued, far outweighed the offence it was said to have committed by the authorities.A committed patriot, Jerry also didn’t think it was right to have gone on a deal with a foreign airline to either subsume or take over the national carrier, and he constantly criticized the agreement negotiated by the federal government. In all his actions, Jerry, it was obvious to the discerning, was propelled by love for his country, and the need to ensure that it got a fair and better deal in whatever deal it went into. But then, it isn’t unexpected that he could also have gone on the wrong side of some people in his activities. No crusader, especially in a country like ours, is ever loved by all. However, death couldn’t have been in the calculation of the activist-pilot as he went about his duties, flying chartered flights and crusading for ethical practices and professionalism in the aviation business. 'He always spoke where others refused to speak, because every body was afraid to speak,' said his friend and former colleague at the defunct Nigeria Airways, Chris Aligbe. As a result of his activism, said Chris, 'every minister hounded him. He lost his job [at the Airways] because of his activism. He was the only one who really understood the air space.' A journalist and close friend of the slain pilot, Ikeddy Isiguzo, said of him: 'Jerry stood for the new generation of Nigerians who supported all the ideas that could create a new Nigeria. He died living that dream.'Jerry’s kids, Tito and Kay, and wife, Mary, are certainly still dazed, unable to come to terms with the tragedy that just hit them. Tito and Kay say their dad was hale and hearty that day and had gone out for the evening. It turned out to be a fatal night. Their dad had crossed the dividing line. Leaving the kids fatherless, and the hapless wife, a widow. Cruel fate.However, even as we commiserate with the family and mourn the dead, Nigerians, especially the Police, need no reminding that they owe a duty to the dead and the living, in ensuring that Jerry’s killers are brought to justice, that they do not go scot-free or vanish into thin air. The accident-theory, it is becoming clearer by the day, will hold no water. Especially in the light of fresh facts that over 29 bullets were extracted from the slain pilot’s body. The lady said to be with Jerry, it is certain, has a lot of questions to answer, and I hope the Police will grill her to reveal more than she has presently volunteered. Her explanation that she was drunk and didn’t know how and when Jerry died, is crap and bullshit, a tale better told to the marine. How could any one be in a car where 29 shots rang out and still come out to claim that she was in a drunken slumber, while all these were going? She certainly, must have taken more than alcohol to have been in that state. Having said all that, we need to make it clear to the Police and other security agencies, that this is one murder that must not be allowed to go the way of similar others. Let’s get to know and fast too: who killed Jerry Agbeyegbe? Why? We need no prophet to tell us that we will never attract the much-talked about foreign investments to our land, when we allow murders as Jerry’s go unresolved. Jerry’s cruel murder is not the personal tragedy of one man or his family and close friends. It is the tragedy of a nation trapped in orgy of violence and needless blood-letting and the government unable to come to the rescue by finding the killers and putting such evil men out of circulation!

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Nigeria, Africa, Eric Osagie, Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, Jerry Agbeyegbe, nigerian articles, african articles

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