THE KANO CRASH - MAY 4, 2002

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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

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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
     

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    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.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Minister, Useni's Wife, 72 Others Killed in Plane Crash


    This Day (Lagos)

    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.

    "Please, note that we are yet to receive detailed report of the accident as we are still liaising with our offices in Kano and in Jos," he explained.

    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.

    "There is a massive mobilisation to evacuate residents of the area," a Gwammaja resident said. Fire-fighters and rescue workers were on the scene, trying to pull survivors from the wreckage. Rescue workers said because the crash occurred in a densely populated residential area, the casualty toll was likely to be higher than the number of passengers on board.

    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.

    The neighbourhood's people said they were worried especially for any who might have been caught inside the mosques, praying, when the plane hit the building.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________

     

    This Day

    May 28, 2002

    EAS Crash: Senate Faults Passengers' Figure
    By Ndubuisi Francis
     

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    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
     

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    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
     

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    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
     

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    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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