Dana Crash: Alarm over “disappearance” of identified corpse

Sola Ogundipe
& Chioma Obinna

14 August 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The last may not have been heard about the victims of the June 3 Dana air crash as family of late retired Assistant Comptroller of Fire Service, Mr. George Moses who was among the unfortunate victims of the crash yesterday raised alarm over what they described as “insincerity” on the parts of hospital authorities about the whereabouts of the victim’s corpse.

A member of the victim’s family Mr. Achief Olajide,who spoke to journalists with authentic documents and photographs of the late George Moses alleged that the names of the victim was among the identified 29 names initially pasted at the Lekan Ogunsola Memorial mortuary of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH mortuary in June.

Olajide also claimed that during the identifiable exercise in June, late Moses’s body was identified by him (Olajide) as the body was 100 per cent intact and was also identified with his Identity Card in his wallet, and was therefore identifiable.

On why the family did not pick the body when some identifiable bodies were released in June, Olajide said,” On the 3rd of June when the incident happened, we came down the following day to the mortuary to identify the body. I entered the morgue and you saw the deceased body and it was intact and he was also identified by his ID card which was in his wallet and we were asked to wait at the hall for briefing.

Professor John Obafuwa brought out they list of identifiable bodies which was up to 29 names. My uncle’s name was number 22 on the list of those 29 identifiable bodies.

“We spoke to professor that they should try and release our body to us since his body was intact. The professor asked us to bring the photograph of the decease. We brought the photograph with my family members but the professor changed his word again that the decease body cannot be released again that they are going for DNA testing. After, we waited for two months, and we were called that the result was out,”he said.

According to Olajide, the search for the corpse began when the family who also attended the meeting held between Lagos state government and families of the victims at LASUTH on Tuesday August, 7,2012 to announce the arrival of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] test results from the United Kingdom[UK] noticed that the name of the late Mr. Moses was conspicuously absent on the list pasted at the mortuary.

Asked if he was aware that LASUTH authorities said there were 16 bodies yet to be identified either because they were excessively charred or the samples submitted by relatives could not match with the body during the forensic analysis, Olajide argued,” “I understand there were 16 bodies that were burnt beyond forensic analysis or some families could not show up with reference samples. But our case does not fall into any of these categories. So where is his body,” he queried.

He further argued that “the deceased daughter, Hannah George and I have identified my late uncle in the mortuary”. He maintained that his late uncle “was neither burnt nor mangled.”

Olajide lamented that his amazement and panic began at the point he discovered that his late uncle’s name was not among those their DNA results arrived from UK penultimate Saturday.

The troubled Olajide continued, “Few days after the incident happened, my cousin and l came here (LASUTH) to identify the corpse of my late uncle. We saw it in the mortuary, the body was intact. His identity card was hung on him. The name was number 22 among the names of identifiable bodies released 2 months ago by the hospital. They must give me the corpse because the family cannot tolerate any excuse this time out,” he charged.

Olajide who is the representative of the family lamented that the hospital management has not told him of any further step to take. He bemoaned what he called lackadaisical attitude at which officials of the hospital are responding to the family’s travail.

“l have been coming here daily since last week but the most bitter aspect is that these people have not told me anything meaningful that l can take back to the family. Prof John Obafunwa, the Chief pathologist told me to come back on the 22nd of August without further explanation.

He further disclosed that the deceased which hailed from Owan West Local Government Area in Edo State was survived by only a daughter, Hannah who unfortunately also lost her mother some years ago.

Another member of the family, Mr Abiodun Dogbo,told newsmen ,“Just imagine, my late uncle’s body that was identified at first sight in the mortuary, after 2 months, we cannot still claim it. I must confess that it is prolonging and aggravating our pains. I wish Lagos State Government understands what we are talking about.

“The only daughter he has was pregnant when the incident happened. It took God intervention before she was delivered of her baby. I know they have good intentions for not giving the victims mass burial. But the procedure of actualizing their goal is flawed in my uncle’s case.

“If others could succeed in collecting their relatives whose bodies were burnt and some dismembered, l see no reason my late uncl’se body that was intact should become a mystery. I don’t want to think otherwise, l believe the corpse is somewhere. I beg them to give it to me,” he demanded.

In the same vein, an immediate younger sister to late George, Mrs Asemota Omodele Dania expressed bitterness over the development. She told newsmen that the family would not allow her late brother’s corpse disappear without holding those responsible to account for it.

In her words, “l am shocked that LASUTH cannot give account of where my late brother’s body is at the moment. We have seen it before, so they can’t tell us anything otherwise. I am really sad about it.

“He was working with Federal Fire service but retired in 2010 as Assistant Controller in Abuja.

She said her brother, Late George Moses, was coming from Abuja for the burial rites of one of his sister, late Mrs. Racheal Amaize, who died on the 2nd of June, when he died in the plane crash next day. We lost two people within two days.”

All efforts to contact LASUTH officials for comment proved abortive.

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