CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By James Emejo
The fading memories of the tragic Dana Air plane crash of last June 3, were reawakened Tuesday when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) formally organised an inter-faith memorial service for eight members of staff who died in the crash along with five of their relations. The gloom of relations of the victims as well as their colleagues was visible all through the ceremony.
Those for whom the inter-faith memorial service was held were: Mrs. Falmata Kur Mohammed; Mr. Ibrahim Yusuf; Mr. Eventus Samuel Mbong; Mr. Istifanus Ibrahim Mutihir; Mr. Adamu Bamaiyi; Mrs. Antonia Attuh; Mr. Raphael Okwuonu and Mr. Kim E. Noris, a special adviser to the CBN governor on Banking Supervision.
Relatives of some CBN members of staff who died in the plane crash are: Alhaji Shehu Usman Sa'ad, Adaobi Thelma Ogochukwu Mojekwu, Mrs. Elizabeth Omukuzua Akwaeze (nee Udezue) and Mrs. Ruth Wasa and her daughter, Miss Hope Aweju Wasa.
In his speech, the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, narrated his near-death experience also aboard the same Dana Air flight. According to him, he had boarded the ill-fated plane only a few days before it crashed on June 3 in Lagos, killing all 153 passengers and crewmembers on board and others on the ground.
The CBN boss, who spoke in Abuja at the memorial service, said anyone could have been on board the plane.
Sanusi, while narrating his experience on the plane days before it crashed, said on its final approach to Lagos, the plane had experienced some difficulties and lost altitude that triggered panic among passengers.
He said he remembered complaining after it landed that the aircraft was not good equipment. But apparently, no action was taken.
“I was on that same plane a few days before the incident and we witnessed loss of altitude while trying to land and people were crying.
“I remember saying that the aircraft was not good. Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State had similarly raised the alarm over the state of the aircraft. Again, nothing, it seems, was done before the plane crashed killing all of its passengers and more,” he said.
While praying against a recurrence of the mishap, he urged aviation authorities to live up to their responsibilities.
He said the day of the unfortunate crash could never be forgotten in the history of the bank and the country in general, as the bank has lost some of its best brains at once.
Sanusi urged members of staff to use the incident as an opportunity to reflect on their lifestyles and prepare to change for the better so that when the end comes, they would be at peace with God.
“June 3 is a day that will be hard for the bank and the country to forget. This kind of situation reminds us of our transit on earth.
“Let us remember that as we do what we do in life, fighting, backbiting and the like, that death is by the corner.
“It could be anyone of us. The death of our loved ones should be a lesson for us as we do everything,” he added.
The event witnessed the presentation of wreaths by the CBN board to relatives and representatives of the deceased, most of whom were dressed in black attires.
Prayers were offered for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
Tope Omogie, a staff member of the CBN, said the deceased might have gone, but their legacies would live on.
The plane which was flying from Abuja to Lagos had crashed at Iju-Ishaga, a densely populated residential district in Lagos, on that fateful Sunday, just four minutes to landing.
The plane soon burst into flame on crashing, sparing none of the passengers and crew members on board.
Besides those on board, the plane crash also claimed the lives of occupants of some of the houses into which it plunged into after losing altitude.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the location of the accident and the huge crowd that ran to the scene as they disrupted access to the spot by fire-fighters and ambulances.
Many of the victims were burnt beyond recognition necessitating the conduct of DNA tests to ascertain and identify the various bodies. The results of all the DNA tests are yet to be given to the relative of the deceased persons.
However, some families who identified the body of their relations have since claimed same and organised funerals for them.
The Federal Government had set up a nine-man probe panel headed by Group Captain John Obakpolor (rtd), to determine the immediate and remote causes of the plane crash.
The panel recently submitted its report blaming the crash on the poor airworthiness of the aircraft. The panel also blamed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for laxity in performing its oversight functions on the airlines.