Late Adeyemi’s Parents with his brother
Parents of Lieutenant David Adeyemi, co-pilot of the ill-fated Naval helicopter, which crashed last Saturday and killed all four passengers, including the two pilots on board, say the death of their son has shattered the joy in the family. Writes Chiemelie Ezeobi
Perhaps worsening the pain of the loss of their dear son, is the fact that the institution with which their son worked and finally died, has failed to formally inform them of the untimely death of Lieutenant David Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the ill-fated Augusta 07 helicopter which crashed and killed all four passengers plus the two pilots on board last Saturday.
Still wrapped in sorrow, the parents of the young pilot described his death as a bombshell that shattered the joy and peace of the family.
Mr. and Mrs. Sowole, the parents of the co-pilot decried the lackadaisical attitude of the Naval authorities towards their son’s death.
The co-pilot died alongside five others including the Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Owoye Azazi (Rtd.) and the pilot, Commander Muhammed Daba.
According to the father, Prince Solomon Sowole, five days after the crash, the Navy has not officially informed them that their son whom they sent on duty died in one of such official assignments.
He said, “We have not even seen any naval personnel. They have not officially come to tell us that our son that they sent out on assignment is dead. I have only heard of the incident through the media.
“He didn’t fall from heaven. He had parents. They should treat Nigerians the way they deserve to be treated and not like they are doing now. It is five days now since my son died on duty but they have not found it worthy to come and tell us.
“We expected them to officially tell us what happened. I am a Yoruba man and I believe things should be done with procedure. Let them come and tell me that my son is dead first. Are we not to be informed before preparing for his burial?”
When THISDAY paid a visit to the deceased’s family home in Iyana Ipaja, the reporter was initially denied access by one of the deceased’s brothers who was later identified as Mr. Segun Adeyemi.
However, a call put across to the Director of Naval Information, Navy Headquarters, Commodore Kabiru Aliyu, paved the way for THISDAY to gain access to the family house.
Speaking on the grouse of the Sowoles, Aliyu said the Navy can only act when the family formally writes to inform the service of the arrangement for the burial.He said, “It is for the family to fix the date and then the navy will take over the burial preparations.
“They are supposed to write to the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, to convey the date for the burial. Then NNS Beecroft will set up a planning committee that will arrange the burial plans.”
The deceased’s distraught father while describing his son’s death as a disaster and a national calamity said the entire family is already destabilised following the loss of their bread winner.
“He was a very nice man, honest, respectful and a humble gentleman. He gave everybody respect and you won’t even know that he was a military man. He was very hardworking.
“When he was going for the course, we all agreed. Nobody said he shouldn’t go and he loved his job very well. He enjoyed his career. What I miss most about him as father is numerous. The whole family misses him because he was very generous. He loved his family; his parents and siblings,” he said.
He expressed doubt over the outcome of the promised probe of the crash by the Federal Government and the senate stressing that “This is not the first investigation that the authorities have carried out. What has happened to the previous investigations? Where are the results of the past investigations?
“Have you seen the outcome of any? Has any been published? We leave everything in the hands of God. Our son is dead and gone already. It is well. I don’t have anything to say to the government.
We were a happy family until this incidence. It was a bombshell to this family.”
The deceased’s mother, Mrs. Olufunke Sowole who spoke through an interpreter said her son’s death is painful as he had suffered to attain his present height in his career.
She said, “When I spoke to my son on Friday, he assured me that he would come to Lagos when he was through with the official assignment he was sent on. He called me by 5pm from Warri and he told me that they are supposed to be back to Lagos on Saturday evening,
“He used to go for trips every three weeks. Immediately he gets there, he will call that he has arrived safely. This time around he called that he was conveying some VIP’s. He told me that he transported some VIPs over 15 times. The last time we spoke.
“I suffered a lot for my children and my son also suffered to get here. He went to the National Defence Academy (NDA) for five years and when he passed out, he was posted to a ship in Lagos.
“Later he learnt to fly. He had four years in his kitty as a pilot and he has never had any accident. He travelled to Italy for a course and came back last year to get married.
“My son was dedicated to his job. When he was in Apapa, he used to pilot a ship from Apapa Jetty to the high sea and stayed for as long as three years. His commander trusted him so much that he sometimes left the ship under his watch.
The late Sowole got married on March 26, last year to his sweetheart, Eniola and has a nine-month old daughter, Teniola. Attempts to speak with the wife proved abortive. THISDAY however gathered that the widow was in her husband’s house in Navy Town, in Ojo Local Government area.
Meanwhile, the Commander, Naval Air Station, Commodore Stanley Ogbogbe, paid a visit to the bereaved family with a retinue of other naval personnel from the air wing.
On sighting the naval officer, the deceased’s mother burst into tears, which further elicited more tears from other sympathizers.