ASSOCIATED Airlines’ plane crashed near the airport in Lagos (Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja) in the morning of Thursday, October 3, 2013.
The plane took off at the airport, only for it to crash near the toll plaza (just where tankers used to park) along the Airport Road, en route Mafoluku area of Lagos.
Those who have visited claimed that the casualties would have been high if the tanker drivers who used the area as parking lot had not been relocated.
There were 20 passengers aboard the plane with 15 of them losing their lives.
Who owns Associated Airlines?
Associated Airlines, registered in Nigeria in 1996, is owned by a group of investors, known as Tak Aviation. The leader of the group is a big time businessman from Kogi State who bought the airline from one Chief Oremule. The Kogi born owner is said to be a big time supplier of fertilizer to the federal government.
The pilot of the ill-fated plane was named as Captain Yakubu (their chief pilot) who is in his 50s and has long years of experience. He reportedly worked for Capital Airlines and Skyline.
He was to retire in 2014.
And the plane that crashed earlier this morning shortly after take-off from the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was due for C-Check in three months.
With nine aircraft in its fleet as at November 2008 (Two BA 125-700, Two Boeing 727-200F, Four Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia and one Lear 45 XR), Associated Airlines operates chartered and regular flights from Lagos to Abuja, Benin, Calabar, Ibadan, Jeddah, Makurdi.
Many reports have identified casualties on the Lagos-Akure flight, but the official manifest of passengers is being awaited.
‘It took almost one hour before the rescue team came’ – OLAYEMI FAWOLE, Eye witness
It took over one hour before the rescue team arrived. The only person we were able to rescue was before the plane exploded and before we could rescue the rest the plane had exploded.
When the plane crashed, what did you actually do?
We went there to rescue people. The first person to come out was a woman.
When the plane crashed, how many minutes did it take the rescue agency to be here?
It took almost an hour before they got here. But people were calling the fire service.
What did the airport authority do at the time of the crash?
Before we knew it, they had started coming out, but it took an hour to be here because most of them did not know. But the fire alerted them.
Visit to LASUTH
ENCOMIUM Weekly visited Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, on Friday, October 4, 2013.
We were at the emergency ward but were prevented from seeing victims of the plane crash. However, investigations conducted by us revealed that Feyisayo Agagu was first taken to the emergency ward of the teaching hospital but was later moved on Friday, October 4, 2013, to Bola Ahmed Tinubu Male Orthopaedic Ward on second floor.
Also Femi Akinsanya was taken to the same ward. Though his injuries were not as severe as other victims, we gathered that he walked out of the crash site unaided.
OKUSANYA’S COLLEAGUES AND FAMILY MOURN
ENCOMIUM Weekly also visited M.I.C office on Odunlami Street, Lagos, on Friday, October 4, 2013, to capture the atmosphere. The place was very quiet, with mourners trooping in to sign the condolence register at the entrance of the office. Some were still with the expression of shock and disbelief on their faces, standing in groups and discussing the unfortunate incident with feelings of sadness.
Our attempt to speak to the family members of Mr. Okusanya was first rebuffed. Instead, we were issued a press release duly signed by one Bolanle Okusanya-Feyita, on behalf of the family, confirming the passing away of MIC boss, his son and four staffers of the company namely: Akeem Akintunde, Chijioke Duru, Kingsley Amaechi and Samson Hassan.
We later had a chat with late Tunji Okusanya’s younger brother, Toyin and one of his workers, Demola Junaid. They both described the late businessman as a very unique entrepreneur who loved his work passionately.
Also, some of Okusanya’s colleagues we spoke to extolled his virtues. They all described him as a good and enviable leader whose death has created a vacuum difficult to fill.
ENCOMIUM Weekly also visited the family of one of the victims, Akeem, also on Odunlami Street, Lagos. All the members of the family, including his parents described their late son as very religious and nice.
TUNJI OKUSANYA’S UNFULFILLED DREAMS
WHEN a man dies, surely some dreams must have perished with him. Such was the case of M.I.C boss, Tunji Okusanya.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s investigation revealed that the late business mogul just acquired a piece of land in Victoria Garden City (VGC), Lekki, Lagos, for cemetery purpose. Not only that, there was a plan on the way to open the place for business in December this year before death beckoned. Also, Mr. Okusanya, who we learnt, would have clocked 60 around the middle of October, 2013, was actually planning for a one-in-town bash. But quite unfortunate, this couldn’t come to pass.
Mr. Okusanya was also said to have positioned his first son, Tunji Okusanya, Jnr., to take over from him as the Managing Director of M.I.C after his retirement. But man proposes, God disposes, both Okusanyas were consumed by the pathetic accident. All these and much more were the dreams that died with the famous undertaker in the Thursday, October 3, 2013, plane mishap.
Mr. Tunji Okusanya’s M.I.C was formed in 1982 as an acronym of his father’s company, Magbamowo Industrial Company. Since then, he had not looked back until his sudden death on Thursday, October 3, 2013.
‘The incident is more than tragic’ – TOYIN OKUSANYA, brother
How would you describe the death of your brother?
It’s shocking and sad. It’s a tragic loss in the family and Nigeria as a whole. It’s more than tragic, it’s like a volcanic eruption. I don’t even know what to do. I am still in shock.
How would you describe him when he was alive?
He was a very nice person, you can see things yourself. He was someone that so much liked his job. He didn’t joke with it till he died. He loved the job to a fault and died with the job. He lived for the job and died for it. He will surely be missed by all, but who are we to probe God. But we thank God he lived a fulfilled life.
Do you have any advice for the government on our air space?
I would just advise government to take proper care of our air space and all the local airlines. I don’t know what else to say.
‘Why we refused to sell a new casket for Agagu’s burial’ – DEINDE HARRISON
So for this they refused to sell another casket or partake in the burial. In an interview with Mr. Deinde Harrison, a foremost undertaker and boss of Ebony Caskets and Funeral Managers, he told ENCOMIUM Weekly the association’s anger with the Agagu family.
What happened between your association and late Olusegun Agagu’s family over the burial?
After the incident (plane crash), they approached about three of us (undertakers). Before they approached us, we’d heard that they were going ahead with the burial and we felt slighted. We felt that if any member of the family (Agagu) had perished in that air crash, I’m sure they would have postponed the burial.
Somebody that was helping them to give their father a befitting burial did not only lose his life but that of his son and five members of his staff and yet they were behaving as if nothing happened. That was why we felt it was a slap on our face therefore, we were not going to partake in the burial.
Did you eventually agree with them because they buried the man with another casket?
No. I think they must have gotten the new casket in Ondo State or somewhere else. But those of us in Lagos refused to do it. They must have gotten those who did the burial for them in Ondo State or anywhere else but not from Lagos.
So, those pallbearers were not from MIC, who were already stationed in Akure, Ondo State?
Not at all. We in Lagos State, after the incident held a meeting and agreed among ourselves not to partake in the burial. We called an official of Ondo State government who told us in confidence that they adviced against the family going ahead with the burial on that Friday, October 4, 2013, because of people who lost their lives in the plane crash. He said since they were not the owners of the corpse, they couldn’t stop them from burying it. Ondo State government lost a commissioner and four other officials in the plane crash.
The Ondo State government, through the official also denied awarding the burial contract directly to Mr Tunji Okunsanya.
According to the official, the government dealt directly with the family through Mr. Femi Agagu, the deceased’s younger brother and former chief of staff in Ondo State when his late brother was the governor and Feyi Agagu, the first and only son of late Olusegun Agagu.
– TOLANI ABATTI
What the clerics said
NO sooner than the Associated Airlines plane carrying the body of the late former Minister of Aviation and other passengers and crew to Akure, Ondo State crashed, rumours started flying that the incident was beyond the ordinary. Some alleged that the late politician was occultic, while some said it was because Agagu was an ogbanje, going by his name, Kokumo.
So, when such people die, they usually go with other innocent souls. This was the conclusion reached by some sympathizers.
However, ENCOMIUM Weekly sought reactions of few clerics on the veracity of such claims.
According to Prophet Olagunroye Faleyimu of Mountain of Blessings and Miracle, Badagry, Lagos, it’s practically possible. Agagu being a very strong politician, coupled with the fact that he was an Ogbanje. “You can’t rule that out. The man was among the powerful who might have been one way or the other involved in occultic processes which involves being in a covenant. Also, his name is Kokumo. That means he was an ogbanje. Such people are referred to as special creatures in Yorubaland, and with spiritual power. So, it’s believed that if such people live long, anytime they die, they don’t usually die alone. And specific number of innocent people must also die with them. May be, that was the case. But left to me, I believe God knows best. And we all need to confess our sins. And we should also serve the Lord and not Mammon.”
Corroborating the earlier submission, Imam Abdulwaheed Akomolesin of Ike Oluwa Central Mosque, Orile Agege, Lagos said, “The incident might not be ordinary, going by the way some of our politicians acquire spiritual powers. What happened was a sign to watch out for when a powerful man like that dies. That’s to tell us that Agagu was among the powerful in the spiritual realm. But as a Muslim, I believe everything that happens is an act of God. Those that perished in the crash had been destined to die that fateful day, Agagu or no Agagu. Allah does not reveal to anybody his or her manner of death, when and where such a person will die.
AKEEM AKINTUNDE’S FAMILY
We commiserate with you on the death of your son, Akeem. We pray Almighty Allah grant him Al-janna Firdau.
Amen. Thank you, Allah will bless you.
How would you describe Akeem?
He was a very nice child, very religious and submissive. Akeem was so caring. I don’t even know how adequate I could describe his person. If my son was out of Lagos, he would keep calling me till he came back. And immediately he came back, he would come to me straight and give me whatever he wanted to give me. He would not want me to suffer anything, he was very caring. Even on Monday, September 30, 2013, he visited me and gave me money. I so much liked him because he was very religious and loving. That was why he was also loved by everybody.
How did you take the news when you were told?
As a Muslim, I had accepted everything as an act of God. That’s the lesson Prophet Muhammed taught us. Almighty Allah has said in the Holy Quran that from Him we all came and to Him we shall all return. So, who am I to probe Allah, the Lord of heaven and earth. Allah also said, He has the knowledge of everything. And that He knows who to die first out of father and child, mother and child. It’s not by age. So, when such a thing happens, first believe in God. It helps strengthen your faith.
What would you now miss most about him?
I will miss a lot about him. I don’t need to be talking about that again. What is important to me now is the reward of Al-janna, which I pray Allah will grant him. He was my beloved son, and was very religious.
What would you remember him most for?
It’s just about his role in the family. Anytime I called him, he was always there for all of us. He was always very supportive.
When last did you see him?
That was Monday, September 30, 2013.
Did you have any premonition of his death?
Nothing like that. At times, I will tell my children to pray and fast if I see something strange coming. But this time around, there was no sign at all. But I believe Allah knows best. They’re just telling me now that he wrote something on his Facebook the day he was travelling to Akure that we should pray for him because only God knows the journey that will be the last. With that, I believe his death was an act of God. May Allah grant him eternal rest.
How old are you sir?
I am 70.
MANIFEST OF THE PLANE CRASH
ON Thursday, October 3, 2013, in an exclusive chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly, Accident Investigation Bureau commissioner, Captain Mukhtar Usman gave us a handwritten manifest.
Feyisayo Agagu – Survived
Femi Akinsanya – Survived
Akintunde T. Joseph – Dead
– Survived (but later died)
Tunji Okusanya – Dead
Chijioke Duru – Dead
– Survived (but later died)
Mrs. A. O Alabi – Dead
Deji Bernard – Dead
Deji Falae – Dead
Samson Hassan – Dead
Owolabi Queeneth – Survived
Flight Officer Oyinlola
Engr. Saroh Elaiye
Akinwande Taiwo – Survived
Olatunji Okusanya – Dead
Toyin Samson – Survived
Deji Afolabi – Dead