Former Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Levi Ajuonoma
By Steve Dada
The bodies of former Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Levi Ajuonoma, and that of Ehime, son of former military vice-president, the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, are among those of 21 victims of the June 3 Dana Airline plane crash to be released Thursday.
The 21 bodies will be released in the first batch to relatives of the victims following the conclusion of DNA tests on 132 bodies of the victims who perished in the crash.
Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) authorities said Wednesday that the bodies of the victims would be released to relatives of the deceased persons after they have properly identified themselves.
Besides Ajuonoma and Aikhomu, others whose bodies are ready for collection today are: Aisha Abdu, Datoru Abikailo, Kaitum Abubakar, Jonathan Abiodun, Ike Abugu, Adekunbi Adebiyi, Oluwadamilare Adeleke and Abraham Adijolola.
Others are: Inusa Ahmed, Ehi Joel Ailente, Obinna Akubueze, Elizabeth Akweze, Martin Alade, Mahmud Aliyu, Joy Allison, John Amadu, Raphel Anuaka, Oluwatosin Anibaba and Onyeka Anyene.
The Dana Air plane, which crashed into the densely populated neighbourhood of Iju-Ishaga, a Lagos suburb, killed all 153 people on board and at least 10 on the ground.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, at a meeting with the relatives of the victims to inform them of the arrival of results of 132 body specimens sent abroad for identification, said that with the conclusion of the DNA tests on the bodies, LASUTH authorities would begin to release the bodies from Thursday in batches of 20 a day.
Idris, who did not disclose why some bodies were still being held abroad, said those ready for collection would be released in alphabetical order and assured them that since a thorough identification exercise had been carried out overseas, it would reduce the chances of relatives being given the wrong bodies.
“We are going to be releasing another 132 bodies that have been identified today. We have gotten some of the results of the DNA analysis from the United Kingdom. The experts have revealed the results and we felt it’s necessary to brief the victims on the processes and documentations needed to claim the bodies,” he added.
The government, through LASUTH, had suspended the release of the bodies to the relatives shortly after the plane crash following allegations of a mix-up in the identities of the victims that had led to some families being given the wrong bodies.
Also speaking at the meeting, LASUTH Chief Pathologist/Chief Medical Examiner, Prof. John Obafunwa, said the DNA test had not been concluded on 16 bodies, adding that the 132 bodies already received by the state government would only be released to relatives upon presentation of authentic documents.
Obafunwa said the most appropriate person to claim the body of any victim is the next of kin, but reiterated that in a situation where the next of kin is not available, the body would be released to spouses, parents, siblings, half sisters and nephews who present legal documents that have been authorised by the next of kin.