Tension and emotions trailed the visit of the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, in Lagos as family members of the victims of Dana air crash openly demanded the release of the bodies of their loved ones.
The Minister was at the Lekan Ogunsola Memorial Mortuary of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH on Friday.
A total of four identifiable bodies have been slated for release from Friday to Saturday morning.
The four corpses, whom their relations have indicated their interest to collect included Temitope Ariyibi, Obiola Ikpoki, Prof. Celestine Onwuliri, and a Chinese, Kang Yi.
The family members, who were agitated over the rigorous processes which they have been subjected to, wondered why the identifiable bodies should not be released after they have actually being identified.
``Release the bodies, so that we can give them a befitting burial'', they chorused.
The agitation, however caused uproar.
All efforts by the Minister and other Lagos State officials, including the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Wale Oke and the Chief Medical Examiner of the hospital, Prof. John Obafunwa, to pacify them failed as they became more agitated.
The relations, who queried the functionality of the counselling centre, also complained about inefficiency of the helplines.
One of the victim’s relations, Mr Ogbonna Nta-Uwaeme, who lost nine people in the ill-fated aircraft, stressed the need for government to ensure sincerity in the various processes.
``We want sincerity and counselling to further reduce the trauma we are passing through.”
Another victim’s relation, Mr Uche Oha, also pointed out the need to make the process less cumbersome by grouping people in batches and giving appointment dates through the telephone numbers they had dropped.
Attempts by the Minister to explain the reason behind the delay of the release of the bodies was greeted by an uproar from the angered relatives.
Chukwu, despite the uproar, appealed to the families to be patient with government, assuring them that all their complaints would be duly addressed.
According to him, to quicken the exercise, more pathologists from Ibadan, Abuja and other states are being drafted to join the pathologists in Lagos.
The Chief Medical Examiner, Prof John Obafunwa, who explained that about 40 families had been processed for the DNA analysis, added that 44 autopsies had been carried out on charred bodies.
``In the past, mass burial was always organised for similar incidents but this time around, we want to do things properly.
``That is why we need to do proper identification. Besides, after this exercise, relatives of some victims will be talking of compensation.”
Obafunwa said that the government was trying to be careful in order not to release wrong bodies to the relatives.
``If they later realise that the bodies they carried were not their own, it will further worsen their trauma.”
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, appealed for calm as the government was determined to do the needful.
Meanwhile, the hospital released more names of identifiable victims.
They included Onyeka Chukwu Collins, Abraham Adijolola, Famata Mohammed, Maimuna Anyene, Onyeka Anyene, Naoh Anyene, (Baby) Sunday Enuma, Ogechi Njoku, Kemisiyop Chukwu Anyene, Oluchi Onyeyiri, Amaka Ojugbara, Christopher Ojugbara.
Others were Dr. Elizabeth Omuluzua Akwaeze, Ruth Wasa, Fortune David Kolawole, Josephine Omara Okechukwu, Ngozi Okechukwu, David Kolawole and Enyimju Oluwa and three yet to be identified adults. (NAN)