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I watched my child roast to death

Posted by By Okoh Aihe, John Ighodaro, Charles Ozoemena & Kenneth Ehigiator on 2005/12/14 | Views: 1052 |

I watched my child roast to death


PORT HARCOURT—LOOKING at the charred remains of the Sosoliso plane and perhaps with images of the ill-fated plane bursting into flames still emitting horrors in his mind, a father Mr. Isaac Okemini, who had gone to pick his daughter returning from school said the most painful aspect of the tragedy was that he watched his daughter burn like a goat.

*Father of victim laments

PORT HARCOURT—LOOKING at the charred remains of the Sosoliso plane and perhaps with images of the ill-fated plane bursting into flames still emitting horrors in his mind, a father Mr. Isaac Okemini, who had gone to pick his daughter returning from school said the most painful aspect of the tragedy was that he watched his daughter burn like a goat.

Speaking at the interdenominational service organised by the Rivers State Government for the crash victims at the scene of the accident at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Mr. Okemini, a former managing director of Risopalm, Port Harcourt recalled the gruesome moment when the plane was on fire and there was no fire service or water needed to quench it. There were no emergency workers or ambulances to help ferry victims to hospital and people just watched children, parents, loved ones and bread winners burn to death.

Mrs Ilabor whose three children died in the crash prayed God to “cause a revolution in Nigeria” while Mrs C. Ezue whose husband also died in the crash cried: “I want my husband. Give me my husband, Sosoliso.”
An angry President Olusegun Obasanjo, meeting with stakeholders in the aviation industry, grounded Chanchangi and Sosoliso airlines and directed that every aircraft in the nation’s aviation industry be inspected within a week.
Mr Okemini recalled the promise he made to himself to give his children the best education possible. He explained that all over the world, Loyola Jesuit College ex-students are in some of the best schools, competing favourably and even outshining most of their school mates born abroad. He said he like others had dreamt of the day his child would have such a bright future and be one of such students.
It is difficult to capture the details of pain and sorrow in the body or on the faces of those who were present. The only evidence was that of a collective grief and a wish that such a tragedy so punishing in execution should never come near the land again.

Governor Peter Odili could hardly find his voice. Saying that everybody had become bereaved by the crash, Odili could only manage some words of condolence and sympathy before leading the gathering into songs.
Of course tears flowed unhindered. Grieving relatives came with enlarged and framed pictures of victims and moved around aimlessly. Some simply just gazed at nothing and the tears rained down the cheeks.

Chronicling air crashes in Nigeria can only bring very frightening pictures of the aviation industry to the mind.
In one of the crashes at the Port Harcourt airport, an Air France plane ran into a herd of cattle on the tarmac, a disgraceful episode that could sound like fiction in most other parts of the world. Even as the service held at the airport the periphery fence has not been done and there is every possibility that such straying animals could still find their way to the tarmac.
In a very feeble response, Odili vowed that the Rivers State Government would personally study the situation at the airport and ensure that this kind of tragedy would never happen again.
The evidence of loss is still as visible as a shroud. The runway still remains littered with debris and there are indications that it’s only after the service that the airport could be cleaned up in preparation for return to use.

Ilabor wants revolution

Mrs. Ilabor, the lady who lost three children in the all-fated Sosoliso air crash, prayed God to “cause a revolution on in Nigeria.” The bereaved lady cried out her demands as she wailed and refused to be consoled during the special inter-denominational funeral service in honour of the victims of the Sosoliso plane crash at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Omagwa.

The interdenominational service which was well attended by bereaved parents, pastors and government officials was organised by Rivers State Government in conjunction with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Mrs. Ilabor who carried a photograph of her three late children narrated her ordeal to whoever would listen as the service was going on, aided by her relatives. “Oh God, cause a revolution in this country. I want a better Nigeria,” she cried.
She would stop, stare and continue: “All died. All. All died.” Referring to one of her late children, she said: “They just made him a prefect.”

She carried the photograph from the area where the service was taking place and took a long walk to the wreckage of the ill-fated plane and was weeping over the wreckage. At a point armed policemen that were everywhere, were ordered by a superior security official to evacuate the area, including the woman and the policemen refused to comply, saying: “Leave her alone.”

Mr. Isaac Okemini, former Risonpalm M.D in Port Harcourt (lost his daughter) said: “It makes me laugh to hear Sosoliso say they will pay compensation. What compensation are they going to pay? On Saturday when this incident occurred, I was here to pick my child. I waited here for 40 minutes. Nothing was done. There was no water to fight the fire. The Fire Service people here had to go to Port Harcourt to invite fire fighters and ambulances.
“I understand there was no light in the airport for six hours prior to the crash. If all the necessary facilities were here at the time of the crash, 80 per cent of the people in the aircraft would have been saved.

“All over the world, you will find Loyola Jesuit College students in Harvard, Ox ford… all over the world. We wanted to give our children the best education. I don’t know if I did wrong by aspiring to do that. What we should ask airline operators in this country is, if they were operating in Europe and America or such other places, would they operate with same aircraft they are using here?

“My appeal to the authorities is that, if there is not electric, even for three months, we should not fly during that period of time.”
Magnus: “I am simply Magnus. I want them to give me the body of Ogundipe Olaitan. We can’t find his body. I have gone everywhere. Ogundipe Olaitan was with Pastor Bimbo Odukoya when the crash occurred. He travelled with the Pastor to Port Harcourt. She was coming for a speaking engagement. We can’t find the body. People are still missing. What are they doing about it?”

They killed my husband, stole his wristwatch — EZUE

Mrs. C. Ezue: “I want my husband. Give me my husband Sosoliso. Give me my husband O! I have six children. I don’t want any other thing than my husband. Sosoliso, give me my husband. I need my husband. My husband is gone. I have six children and all of them are schooling overseas and their fees will be due in January. Who am I going to be telling now?
“Come and take your drugs, come and take your Quaker oath. He is there out in the cold. They have killed my husband. They also stole his wristwatch. Give me a microphone, I want to talk.”

Mr. Ajilore: “What I want is for them to give me the bodies of my kids (he lost two kids in the fatal crash, male and female). I have to have their bodies so I can bury them.”
Capt. Graham Bumi (an aircraft pilot): “I’ll tell you that as an aircraft pilot, flying remains the best option in transportation but everything that has to do with flying must be put in place.
Officiating minister at the service: Apostle G.D Numbere (who gave a sermon taking his text from 2 Kings 6:1-6): “These air-crashes occur because of the lapses in our aviation industry. The industry lacks regular personnel training. They have obsolete equipment. They have partially functional navigation aids, with poorly equipped non-functional fire service which lacks basic things as hoses and water.

“We understand that some of the victims died of asphyxiation. If we had a trauma unit here, a mobile hospital here. If we had a functioning fire fighting equipment here and there was no power outage, this perhaps would not have occurred.”
Governor Peter Odili: “No matter what has happened, we should console ourselves knowing that it could have been worse. I want you to know that all the issue raised here today, government will ensure that they are robustly addressed.”
Mrs. Okujiagu (widow of Prof. Thompson Okujiagu): No, no, no,…. no interviews please.”
A bereaved lady collapsed at the venue where the interdenominational service was going on and was promptly taken away in an ambulance to an undisclosed venue.

Obasanjo blames it on corruption

President Obasanjo at the meeting with stakeholders in the aviation sector said the bane of the country’s aviation industry was corruption. “What we are seeing now are the wages of corruption,” he said.
President Obasanjo who sat dumbfounded listening to submissions at the meeting he had called to prevent the aviation industry from total decay said in whatever case the situation was described, whether it was sharp practices or cutting corners, the bane of the industry was corruption, a situation that must be addressed immediately or headlong.
But he swore that any official who received money from somebody, had a good trip abroad instead of doing his job and failed to inspect a plane that would in turn kill people, the judgement of God is reserved for that person. His reaction was based on sundry submissions that officials of various regulatory bodies were corrupt, collecting money from operators instead of carrying out their regulatory duties.

The complaints were legion. Bad navigational equipment, bad radar. Pilots don’t go for simulation tests; operators without knowledge of the industry are dictating to the pilots who run the risk of losing their jobs, and skilled workers are sacked for favoured appointees whose only qualification is knowing the man at the top.
The environment was charged. People came with prepared documents. Some came to speak frankly about the industry. Others came pretentiously to bid for jobs while some simply defended that which they already have and were not prepared to lose.

One of such persons from one of the parastatals received the ire of President Obasanjo who ordered him to shut up and sit down if he didn’t have anything to say. The gentleman was narrating the various measures his agency had put in place to make the aviation industry safer.
A visible annoyed President ordered him to “shut up. Shut and sit down if you don’t have anything to say. Minister, if this is the kind of person you have in that place you don’t have any body at all. If you have done all the things which you claimed to have done, why are we here now? Why are people dying?”
The position of President Obasanjo was clear. The meeting was called for frank talks, for people to speak their mind unhindered because he suspected that some funny things were happening in the industry resulting in great loss of life. He feared that such disasters could reverse the gains so far recorded in the country’s democracy while loved ones would die prematurely.

He had his reasons to be angry. Bringing out a letter which he read to the gathering, President Obasanjo said that only yesterday, he found out from the Secretary to Government that a letter had been written to the Aviation Minister in January, informing him of security report which implicated Chanchangi and Sosoliso on failed landing efforts. The letter urged the minister to do something urgently to prevent tragedy in the industry.
Struggling with bitterness, Obasanjo said “obviously, something was not done and that is why we are here today.” He was pained by such negligence and vowed that it would never be allowed to happen again. As a first line of action, he announced the grounding of the two airlines and said their planes would not fly until they had been cleared by the appropriate authorities.



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Comments (3)

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown