Information on the Kano Crash Tragedy

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THE KANO CRASH – MAY 4, 2002

 

EAS PLANE CRASH IN KANO MAY 4,
2002
LIST OF VICTIMS

CREW

1.    Capt. Inneh Peter           – Captain
2.    Adegboye, C.E.            –  First Officer
3.    Pero Dorjs                    –  Leader Crew
4.    Iwenofu, Nene               – Cabin Attendant
5.    Nwokeji, Ifenyinwa        – Cabin Attendant
6.    Engr. Idoko, Emmanuel  – Flight Engineer
7.    Engr. Mohammed Sarki  – Flight Engineer
 

PASSENGERS

8.    Seyrei  H.             
9.    Seyrei K.                
10.    Omiter U. F.             

11.    Ben Oweka
12.    Oyesola. S.            
13.    Eichoiz, R.                
14.    Eichois, F.                
15.    Anegbe, C.J.            
16.    Useni D.                
17.    Useni, J. T.                           
18.    Khailani K. V.           
19.    Ajao, B. E.                
20.    Casmir, J. E.            
21.    Ukadike, K.                           
22.    Mairiga, H. Y.            
23.    Obi, D. C.               
24.    Adenle, A.                
25.    Sani, L. O..                           
26.    Ajao, O.                
27.    Agada, C.               
28.    Olusegun, A.            
29.    Durojaye, A. O. (Mrs)                        
30.    Ziyok,  J. U. Mrs.                        
31.    Mtente, U. (Mrs.)                       
32.    Srivastava, R. K. (Mrs.)    
33.    Famwang  .J. (Mrs.)                     
34.    Mittala, A. Mr.            
35.    Damap, K. Rev.
36.    Binrett, M. Rev. Sis.
37.    Dadirep.  M. Dr. (Mrs)                                
38.    Jajere, S. Mr.           
39.    Jajere, S. Mr.            
40.    Oloayemi O.A. Mr.                         
41.    Lsi Edodo Mr.            
42.    Dasne, M. Mr.            
43.    Yakubu, F. Mr.            
44.    Aku I. M. Min.
45.    Ayalu, S.  Mr.

46.    Osomo, A.O. Mrs.
47.    Gbolade, B.  Miss.
48.    Okiomo, Em M.  Mr.
49.    Jimoh, S. A.  Mr.
50.    Ibrahim, N.  Mr.
51.    Mukhtar, O. Giwa  M.
52.    Khadija Abubakar.  F
53.    Ado, Alhaji  M.
54     Otedokun, P. Mrs. F.
55.    Alkali, Alhaji  M.
56.    Dauda  Dah, Dr. M.
57.    Nwachukwu, Kenneth (M)
58     Gimba, P.M.
59.    Alaba, Mr.  M.
60.    Alaba, (Master) M.
61.    Mainassara, M.
62.    Alero, Okor  f.
63.    Okusolobo, I. B. Mrs. F.
64.    Hamisu Mohammed F.
65.    Rabi Lawal  F.
66.    Nabila Mohammed  F.
67.    Pascal, O. Mr. M.
68.    Nike, Gag.  M.
69.    Soubat  Dayekh M.
70.    John I.M. M.
71.    Samson, Mr. M.

THE SURVIVORS
 

1.    Idowu Adebayo
2.    General N.T.H. Bozegha
3.    Naomi Ukpong
4.    Adesina B. A.
5.    Najeeb Ibrahim, Lebanese
6.    Ikegwuoha, E.O. Bri.General

The Kano Tragedy
Manifest Released, General Among Survivors
 

  • One black box found
    By Paul Ibe, Collins Edomaruse in Lagos, Josephine
    Lohor, Chuks Akunna and Yakubu Musa in Kano

     

    One Army General, Briga-dier General Emmanuel Ikegwuoha is
    among four survivors of the ill-fated Executive Airline Services (EAS) plane
    that crashed Saturday in Kano killing 72 passengers and crew.

    Another general, Brigadier General N.T.H. Bozegha, who initially survived the
    crash, however, died yesterday.

    Although THISDAY could not piece together the circumstances of his death as at
    press time, his wife and family were mourning yesterday night at his 6,
    Bedwell, Ikoyi, Lagos residence.

    Speaking to THISDAY yesterday night from his hospital bed, Ikegwuoha said, “It
    is only God that saved me. I am sure God saved me for a purpose.”

    The retired general whose body is severely burnt, recounts the tragic
    incident: “It was too early for me to think of what was going on. We had
    barely taken off when the incident occurred. It was too sudden to think of
    what actually happened,” he said.

    Ikegwuoha is an Army engineer, who retired from service in 1993. Since his
    retirement, he has been in private practice.

    Bozegha who initially survived but later died was a medical doctor and Comman-ding
    Officer, 3 Division Medical Centre, Jos and was said to be “a thorough bred
    infantry officer.”

    A fresh graduate of the National War College, Abuja and formerly Directing
    Staff, Command and Staff College early in the 90s, Bozegha hails from the old
    Rivers State.

    Other survivors are Mr. Idowu Adebayo, Mr. Adesina B.A. and Miss Naomi Ukpong,
    an Air Hostess.

    According to the manifest released by EAS, four passengers including a cabin
    crew, Miss Ekpong survived the crash. However, rescue team yesterday pulled
    out another pasenger, Brigadier-General Ikegwuoha from the debris. He is
    currently recuperating at the Mallam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (MAKTH).

    Among the dead are the pilot Captain Inneh Peter and six other crew members.
    The other crew members are Mr. Adegboye C.E. (First Officer), Miss Peros Doris
    (Lead crew), Miss Iwenofu Nenne (Cabin Attendant), Miss Nwokeji Ifeyinwa
    (Cabin Attendant), Engr. Idoko Emma-nuel (Flight Engineer) and Engr. Mohammed
    Sarki (Flight Engineer).

    Three Catholic clergy, Rev. Damap K., Rev. Anegbe C.J. and Rev. Sister Benrett
    were among the dead. The list also include a couple, Mr. Seyrei K and Mrs.
    Seyrei H; mothers/sons, Mrs. Julie Useni, Mr. Danjuma Useni and Mrs. Eicholz R
    and her infant child, Master Eicholz F. One Mr. Alaba was also travelling in
    company of his son, Master Alaba while two brothers, Mr. Jafere S. and Mr.
    Jafere S. were among the dead.

    The managing director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engr.
    Ibrahim Mamman told THISDAY that the plane crash had nothing to do with the
    use of the temporary run way in the Airforce barracks as reported by one of
    the national newspapers yesterday.

    Mamman said that since a lot of families from Gwammaja area, scene of the
    crash, were involved in the tragedy, the district head of the area, the Hakimi,
    will assist in identification of the received bodies.

    He disclosed that an official of the ill-fated EAS airline has arrived Kano
    and is holding talks with the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.

    An eye witness said that two identification cards belonging to Messrs Adebayo
    Idris and Oweka Benson, a product manager with Cowbell were seen at the crash
    site. Also, a pistol with registration number A047172 believed to belong to
    the police orderly of Sports Minister, Ishaya Mark Aku, was also recovered.

    Meanwhile, one of the two black boxes of the crashed plane has been recovered.

    Mr Remi Faminu, leader of the team despatched by the Federal Ministry of
    Aviation, Abuja, to the crash scene disclosed this while briefing Bayero, Emir
    of Kano who visited the scene on Saturday.

    Faminu told the Emir that the recovered box would be sent abroad to determine
    the state of the aircraft including the functioning of the engines before and
    during the accident.

    He said that the second box yet to be recovered would reveal the communication
    between the pilots, the crew and the control tower.

    Faminu said that unless these were done, there would be no reliable means to
    determine conclusively what actually led to the unfortunate incident.

    He said that he and his team were making efforts to recover the remaining box
    in good time to enable the ministry carry out its investigations.

    The Emir expressed sympathy with relatives of those who lost their lives and
    called on the federal ministry of aviation to hasten their investigations to
    acertain the causes of the accident.

    With hopes of finding more survivors becoming bleak, rescue operation by
    volunteers, which resummed in the early hours of yesterday has been shifted
    from search and rescue to search and recovery .

    More corpses as well as dead domestic animals were recovered during the early
    hours of yesterday.

    Some of the volunteers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that three out of
    the pupils said to have been buried in the rubble of their school and their
    headmaster were rescued on Saturday and were all responding to treatment at
    various medical centres.

    NAN further reports that more corpses buried under the debris have started
    decomposing and emitting offensive odour while traffic to the scene was
    disrupted as thousands of sympathizers trooped into the area to see things for
    themselves.

    Meanwhile, the mortuary of the city’s Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital has
    been filled to capacity with corpses of the victims.

    Owing to congestion at the mortuary, the remaining corpses had been taken to
    the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

    The management of the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has recalled all its
    off-duty staff for emergency operations.

    Five persons have been confirmed by officials of the Murtala Mohammed
    specialist hospital as having survived the plane crash.

    However, apart from passengers on board the plane, dozens of people reportedly
    died in and around buildings destroyed in the neighbourhood where the plane
    went down, while many others sustained injuries.

    The Managing Director of EAS Airlines, Captain Idris Wada, disclosed that
    Lloyds Insurance, insurers of the British Aerospace, BAC 1-11-500 aircraft
    which was involved in the crash, has sent a representative from London to
    investigate the cause of the crash.

    Speaking to newsmen yesterday at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano,
    Wada stated that the management of EAS Airlines is co-operating fully with the
    Federal Aviation Authorities to ascertain the cause of the accident.


  • This Day
    (Lagos)

    May 5, 2002
    Posted to the web May 5, 2002

    Collins Edomaruse, Okechukwu Kanu
    Lagos And Yakubu Musa in Kano With Agency Reports

    The Kano Tragedy

    Tragedy struck the nation yesterday
    following the death of Sports Minister, Mr Ishaya Mark-Aku and 73 others in a
    plane crash.

    Also killed in the crash are the wife
    of Lt-General Jeremiah Useni (rtd), Mrs. Julie Useni and their last son, Danjuma.
    A passenger, Najib Ibrahim and a crew member, however, survived the crash.

    The BAC 1-11 500 Series belonging to
    Executive Airline Services (EAS) Airlines crashed at about 1.35 p.m. at Gwammaja
    near Kano, three minutes after take-off from the Mallam Aminu Kano International
    Airport for Lagos.

    Eye-witnesses further said they saw the
    plane swaying from side to side just after takeoff, and then it went into a nose
    dive.

    It came down in a densely populated
    area, ploughing through several buildings including two mosques before it came
    to a halt and burst into flames.

    Terrified residents, screaming and
    sobbing, were reported to be searching for survivors in the shattered pieces of
    aircraft and crumbled homes.

    The Airlines spokesman, Mr Idris Adama,
    told journalists that the ill-fated plane with registration number 5N ESF, was
    on a routine flight service from Lagos through Jos, connecting Kano and with
    Lagos as its final destination.

    The grief-stricken spokes-man also said
    there were 69 passengers and seven crew members on board. Seventeen of the
    passengers boarded the plane in Kano.

    Although he would not speak on the
    cause of the incident, THISDAY however gathered that the crash, which happened
    three minutes after take-off, resulted from a failed engine that went beyond the
    control of the pilot, Peter Ineh and his co-pilot, whose name was given simply
    as Adegboye. Adama did not give details of those on board.

    He, however, assured sympathisers who
    had thronged its offices, that: “As soon as we receive a faxed copy of the
    manifest from Kano, we shall paste it on our notice board for all to see.”

    Adama also said that victims of the
    accident were “immediately” evacuated to Aminu Kano Hospital, kano, for
    attention.

    Asked to give further details of the
    crash, he said: “I cannot give you any other information beyond all I have said.
    Besides, I cannot give you any technical detail of the incident as I am not in a
    position to do that.

    The two survivors were rescued from the
    wreckage of aircraft, which crashed and caught fire shortly after take-off.

    Residents said that as the plane came
    down, it hit a building in the heavily populated district of Ungwar Maja about
    one kilometre from the airport on the outskirts of Kano. It ploughed through two
    other buildings, came to a halt and then burst into flames, they said.

    One local resident said people could be
    heard inside the wreckage screaming for help, but they perished because
    fire-fighters had no water and could not put out the fire.

    The plane had arrived safely in Kano
    from Jos, and had just set off for Lagos when it plunged to the ground.

    There has not been a major air disaster
    in Nigeria since 1996 when 142 people died as a Boeing 727 belonging to
    Associated Development Company (ADC) Airline plunged into a lagoon outside
    Lagos.

    Nigeria deregulated its airline
    industry in the mid-1980s and about a dozen private companies, including EAS,
    sprang up to compete with state carrier, Nigeria Airways.

    Correspondents say there are concerns
    about the use of older aircraft by the private domestic carriers.

    In April, the Federal government
    announced a ban on the use of aircraft more than 22 years old, a move that
    triggered strong protests from private airline operators.

    An Associated Press reporter on the
    scene soon after the crash saw at least one body, that of a woman, carried out.
    A neighbourhood resident said he helped pull a survivor, who had bone jutting
    out of his forehead, from the plane.

    Other residents, terrified, screaming
    and sobbing, searched for more dead or living among the plane’s shattered metal
    and the rubble of buildings.

    Umar Suleman, a resident said he saw
    the plane “wobbling” in the air seconds before the crash. Terrified residents
    fled just before the plane smashed into two mosques and other buildings.

    When Suleiman returned and joined
    others trying to give help, he found one man sitting on a seat in the plane,
    “his forehead broken,” with bone jutting out.

    The man was alive. Suleman said he
    helped him from the rubble. Other residents said their searches turned up no
    survivors.

     

    This Day

    May 28, 2002

     

    EAS Crash: Senate Faults
    Passengers’ Figure

    By Ndubuisi Francis
     

    The Senate Committee Chairman on Aviation yesterday
    disagreed with the Managing Director of Executive Air Services (EAS), Captain
    Idris Wada on the number of passengers in the ill-fated EAS aircraft that
    crashed in Kano May 4 killing several people, including Sports Minister, Mr
    Ishaya Mark Aku.

    The committee, which sat in Lagos and took evidence from the EAS boss and
    other witnesses over the mishap was told by Wada that only 77 passengers and
    seven crew members were in the aircraft when it left Jos for Kano.

    But the Committee Chairman, Senator Idris Kuta disagreed, saying the surviving
    lady crew member, Miss Naomi Ukpong gave a higher figure which he could not
    disclose.

    Kuta noted that the figure given by the lady was more reliable given the fact
    that she was in the ill-fated aircraft but Wada noted that the figure in the
    manifest was what he (Wada) was relying on.

    Asked to comment on why the pilot had to go ahead to fly when it was apparent
    that the aircraft was not able to be airborne even when it had gotten to the
    end of the runway, Wada said only the deceased pilot knew why.

     

     

    This Day

    May 11, 2002

    They Died With Their Dreams
    Families of some of the victims capture the essence of
    some of the lives abruptly snuffed out. They spoke with Yakubu Musa

     

    No doubt since the last Saturday’s tragedy it has been a
    tales of agony for one family or the other. The most pathetic story of it is
    the fact that many of the victims were otherwise vey ambitious people. But all
    that has been shattered by one large bang and a huge explosion.

    Aleiro, Rabi, Rabila

    (Wards of Col. Habib Shuaibu, former military Administrator)

    All the three members of the family of Colonel Habib Shuaibu (former Plateau
    State Military Administrator) who died in the plane were young girls that were
    still pursuing their educational career.

    Aleiro (22) who was cousin of his wife was a 300-Level student of Bayero
    University Kano. She was studying Mass Communication/English in the Faculty of
    Arts and Islamic Studies of the university.

    The other girl, Rabi Lawal who was just 18 had just gained admission into the
    same university to pursue a Diploma course in Accounting and Auditing.

    The last of the trio, Rabila had finished her secondary school at Ahmadiyya
    Secondary School. She also sat for the last Joint Admission and Matriculation
    Board (JAMB) exam. But unfortunately she would never see the result.

    All the three girls however, were travelling to Lagos to visit Miss Aleiro’s
    mother, who is based there. They all travelled together, as according to
    Shu’aibu, they “never separate”. And they died together.

    “The three girls were always together. Even in the morning of that fateful day
    when they came to greet me, they were together,” he narrated.

    Visibly shaken the former military administrator also narrated to THISDAY how,
    he received the shocking news of his dependents tragic death.

    “I was at the venue of Dan Masamin Kano (Alhaji Maitama Sule) book launch when
    it happened. Immediately when I came back home my wife told me that there was
    plane crash but she was not sure whether the girls were on the plane.

    “So we quickly rushed to the airport to confirm but as soon as we reach the
    gate of our house she turned on the radio of the car. And what she heard on
    BBC was that it was EAS plane that crashed.

    “Having heard that EAS, she immediately broke down in tears she now told me
    that she heard them mentioning EAS before they left around 1:00 p.m.

    “So we still went to the airport and there, I met a loader who confirmed to me
    that he saw them boarding the plane.

    “Then I became so devastated that I could not even go to the scene of the
    crash. But I sent some people to go round the hospitals. And their bodies were
    found later at Murtala Muhammed Hospital”, he narrated.

    Speaking further, soft spoken Shuaibu also noted that apart from bruises and
    fractures, there were no burns on their bodies.

    Khadija Abubakar, 39

    (Daughter of Senator Abubakar Tugga)

    In the same vein, however the mood at the Sultan road’s residence of Second
    Republic Senator Alhaji Abubakar Tugga, is such a pathetic one.

    His daughter, Khadija, who would have celebrated her 40th birth day in
    September this year was also on the ill-fated flight after visiting her
    mother. Indeed when she bid her mum “bye bye” that fateful day, she never knew
    that it was a farewell for her final journey to eternity.

    Khadija who was a graduate of English from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria,
    also held a Masters Degree from BUK.

    Before her death, beautiful Khadija, who was based in Lagos was involved in an
    NGO, African Radio Drama Association (ARDA). She was handling Northern aspect
    of their programmes.

    According to her immediate younger brother Yusuf Tugga, many unusual ‘things”
    happened before her death.

    “She had been in Kaduna on their programme, Asuba ta Gari, for nine days. And
    on Friday night, she insisted on coming to Kano.

    “Our father who was to travel with her tried to convince her that he doesn’t
    travel in the night so that the trip be postponed to the Saturday that the
    incident eventually occurred.

    “However, my sister insisted that she must see her mother that night. She even
    burst into tears. So he finally bowed to her wish,” the brother narrated.

    Tugga, also noted that even on the “black” Saturday, another unusual thing
    happened “the fact that it was our father himself who drove her to the
    airport, which is very unusual”.

    Tugga pointed out that even after her death, the family had to undergo another
    round of agony, as her body was claimed by somebody from Plateau State. He
    said doctors at the Armed Forces Specialists Hospital Kano, where her body was
    deposited, had to carry out an autopsy on the disputed body “before they
    confirmed that it was my sister’s”.

    The last Saturday’s crash is the second tragic news the family has heard
    within a spate of one year.

    Her, younger sister, Fatimah who is based in the United State of America (USA)
    lost her husband in the September 11 attack in US.

    The husband, Mohammed Rabiu, who was Egyptian was at the office in one of the
    twins towers of the World Trade Centre (WTC) when it was attacked by
    terrorists.

    May 12, 2002

    ThisDay

    NEPA’s Manager Died in EAS Crash
    From Louis Achi in Jos
     

    Atop management staff of National Electric Power Authority
    (NEP-A), Jos zone, Engr. Sulaiman Olayinka Oye-shola, was one of the
    passengers that died in the EAS Airline jet that crashed last Saturday in Kano.

    Disclosing this information in a press release made available to THISDAY in
    Jos, the organisation’s public affairs zone manager Baba Omer-Ikaige said that
    Oyeshola was on his way to Lagos before he met his death.

    The late engineer who joined NEPA some 33 years ago was until his death
    assistant general manager (marketing) at NEPA zonal headquarters, Jos.

    In a tribute, the management and staff of Jos zone described him as a highly
    resourceful and dependable person. Their words; ‘the death of Engr S.O.
    Oyeshola has robbed Jos zone and NEPA nationwide a rare gem.”

    He is survived by a wife, Kehinde Oyeshola and children.

     

    May 19, 2002

     

    Ekwueme

    …Recounts
    Dramatic Escape on EAS

     

  • $100,000 is found in luggage
    The Kano Plane Crash
     

    Preliminary investigations into the actual cause of the
    EAS Plane BAC 1-11 crash began yesterday in Kano with the disclosure by the
    management of the airlines that a sum of $100,000 was found in the luggage
    of one of the victims by officials.

    Meanwhile, in Lagos, Second Republic Vice Presi-dent, Dr. Alex Ekwueme
    yesterday also recounted to THISDAY the circumstances surrounding his
    disembarkment in Kano from the EAS aircraft shortly before it crashed,
    arguing that most of the media reports have been distorted.

    According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, the Managing Dir-ector
    of EAS, Captain Idris Wada yesterday in Kano fielded questions from members
    of the Senate ad hoc panel of inquiry headed by Senator Idris Kuta, Chairman
    of the Aviation Committee, on the ill-fated crash that claimed the lives of
    over a hundred Nigerians.

    Wada who confirmed that $100,000 was found in a passenger’s luggage said the
    money has already been lodged with the police until the family of the owner
    could be ascertained. On the status of the crashed aircraft, Wada said it
    was delivered to EAS in July 2001 and was manufactured in 1980, adding that
    it was “delivered fresh” by the Romanian Airlines.

    Wada also told the committee that the aircraft had undergone all the
    requisite checks and was therefore in perfect condition prior to the crash.

    The EAS MD who said he was not fully prepared for the investigation said he
    would provide all the needed documents and certificates to the committee
    when it begins its sitting in Lagos during the week.

    On the communication between the control tower and the aircraft, Wada said
    the only communication they had was during the rolling to take off, adding
    that the weight of the luggage in the aircraft was 700 kilogrammes.

    He also disclosed that the black box containg the communication between the
    pilot and control tower was still missing while all they have for now is the
    flight data. He however said the captain of the aircraft with 104 seats was
    an experienced hand with over 14,000 flight hours while the co-pilots also
    had about 6,000 flight hours each.

    The Kuta committee which had earlier visited the site of the crash will stay
    in Kano till tomorrow and is expected to also take testimony from FAAN, NAMA
    and NCAA officials before proceeding to Jos.

    Meanwhile, Ekwueme recounted his dramatic escape to THISDAY in Lagos. He
    said the whole story began when Alhaji Maitama Sule intimated him that he (Ekwueme)
    had been slated to be guest speaker at his (Sule’s) book launch scheduled
    for Kano last month. He said he could not agree to the invitation because he
    had a prior family commitment fixed for that day. To his surprise, the date
    of the event was changed and without any further invitation, his name was
    put on the invitation card and in media adverts. He said at that point he
    knew he had to attend even when it again clashed with another engagement in
    Akwa, Anambra State capital.

    “I had an invitation from my good friend, Yusuf Maitama Sule to be a guest
    speaker at his book launch. This book launch was originally scheduled for
    the 27th of April. I explained to him that I wouldn’t be able to come
    because my only surviving uncle turned 80 and I was going to have a
    Thanksgiving Service for him on that day and there was no way I was going to
    leave him and come to Kano so he accepted my explanation and I thought that
    was the end of the matter. Just a few days later I got a message from a
    member of the Organising Committee of the launch telling me that the event
    had been shifted to May 4 which also wasn’t really a convenient date for me.
    When I heard and read about the book launch through the invitation card sent
    out and through the media which had my name still as guest speaker, I felt
    strongly obligated to honour the invitation even though it wasn’t convenient
    because I had arranged a meeting in Awka.

    “I planned originally to leave Awka anytime we finished the meeting and
    drive all the way to Abuja and leave the next morning at about 6am and be in
    Kano at 10am. But when I mentioned it to my daughter, she said it was
    dangerous and that there is a lot of armed robbery attacks on the road.”

    Ekwueme eventually made it to Lagos and the next morning he was at the
    airport hoping to catch the EAS flight but “when I got to there airport they
    said the plane was full and that the plane was even leaving at 9.30 so I
    talked to them that I had to get on the flight because I had a meeting in
    Kano but they said there was nothing they could do. When I insisted they
    said ‘okay lets go to the tarmac’. We went to the tarmac and the chap spoke
    to the captain and the captain said ‘oh yes we’ll take you on’. It was at
    the tarmac I bought my ticket and they marked it “crew seat” because all the
    other seats had gone. The captain was very nice. So I sat in the exit row
    where the air hostesses normally sit. In the end they didn’t leave till
    about 10am.

    “By the time we were leaving the delays had started, we got to Jos and
    stayed in Jos for almost 45 minutes and by the time we took off from Jos and
    got to Kano it was already 1pm. Meanwhile when I knew I would be arriving
    late, I called the Governor’s office and spoke to the Secretary to the
    Governor and they said they had Protocol people and a car waiting for me so
    that they would take me straight to the venue and that they would be on
    standby during the programme. But when I got to Kano I was told that the
    event was already over. But we were not allowed to disembark because the
    Vice-President who had gone to the event was leaving. I think he had another
    engagement in Maidugiri so he came out on time so we had to wait for another
    45 minutes for his aircraft to take-off before we disembarked. Now I knew
    that the event was over and I had a choice of either going back to Lagos and
    aborting it altogether or go into town and see the Governor, spend the night
    in Kano. The state governor sent people to collect me and I think that was
    partly part of the confusion and we drove straight to Government House and
    spent some minutes with the Governor then I went to Alhaji Maitama Sule’s
    house and I stayed there for an hour and I now decided then that I should
    continue to Abuja. I asked the governor whether he could provide a vehicle
    for me and he assigned one of the Government House Jeeps to me with a driver
    to take me down to Abuja.”

    While recalling what happened on the flight Ekwueme cannot but remember
    something he described as dramatic when he got into the aircraft in Lagos on
    the way to Jos: “One of the air hostesses came to me and said ‘I’m going to
    get married very soon, I’d like to give you an invitation’ and I said ‘what
    date is that?’ and she said 25 May so I said ‘I won’t be here, I have a
    meeting in Washington I’m travelling out of the country so I said give me
    the invitation anyway’. She brought the invitation card and I saw where the
    wedding will take place and where the reception will take place and the
    phone numbers but no addresses. So I called her and said ‘this thing does
    not have an address in case I want to send you a note to congratulate you’.
    She pointed to the front of the invitation and I said ‘no, this is the
    church where you are going to have the wedding and this is where you are
    going to have the reception you mean if I have to write you a letter and
    send it to any of these places you will get it’. She said no!. She went and
    got a piece of paper, wrote her name, Cabin Executive, EAS Airlines, 29
    Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja. I said fine, I intended to send her a short
    note and a present. So when this happened and they said there were only two
    survivors, I concluded that the girl had died and when I got to Abuja and
    narrated the story all those I told the story were aggrieved. The next
    Monday morning they published the list of more survivors and this girl was
    number one. She’s from Akwa-Ibom, Ikot-Ekpene area. So I thank God for her
    life, for keeping her. The last I heard of her she was in hospital in Kano
    and I’m already writing her a letter congratulating her on her survival.

    Asked whether he would attend her wedding he said he would not. “No! I won’t
    be here for her wedding. It was a dramatic thing to have survived.”

    On the Aviation industry generally, Ekwueme is of the opinion that it is
    grossly unfair to put the blame on the airlines operators who he said are
    operating under impossible conditions. “There is definitely a problem but
    looking at the situation here now the last major air crash we had in Nigeria
    was in 1996, ADC coming from Port-Harcourt and how that happened is not very
    clear but obviously it was an unusual case. And I hear a hundred and
    something people died in that one. The 1996 crash included Mr. Ajumogobia,
    my mathematics teacher, who died at age 83 and in that interval, a six year
    period, we now have another one what about the casualties we have on the
    roads which run into thousands? Once it happens in the air it is usually
    total so everybody get frightened and worried. Having said that, however,
    there is a need for stricter control in our aviation industry. But you also
    must know the conditions under which they operate. A flight to Abuja is
    N7,000, less than $60 dollars yet all their spare parts and everything are
    denominated in foreign exchange.”

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