The inability of families of the victims of Dana Air crash to recognise the bodies of their loved ones involved in the crash caused a fight between two families, yesterday, at Lekan Ogunsola mortuary of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja.
According to the families, the corpses which were quite identifiable last week have degenerated so much that all look alike now.
Trouble started when the family of late Mr Jones Ifeakanwa, who died in the crash, were told that another family had also identified same corpse as their own.
Earlier, Chief Medical Examiner, LASUTH and Consultant Pathologist and Forensic medicine, Prof. John Obafunwa had invited the Ifeakanwa family to identify their late brother’s corpse, which they did with some difficulty unlike last week when they said he was identified at first sight.
The second family after going in to identify their corpse eventually picked same corpse as their late brother who equally was involved in the crash.
As a contention arose, Obafunwa was forced to deny both families ownership of the corpse advising them to wait for the DNA result that will be available in about four weeks.
Enraged, the two families engaged themselves in verbal war that might have ended in fist-cuff but for the intervention of security men at the mortuary.
It was gathered that while the Ifeakanwas were very sure of the body they identified as their late brother, the contending family told Obafunwa they were not sure that the body is actually theirs.
The Ifeakanwa family, however, complained of the deplorable state of their alleged brother’s corpse, who was their youngest sibling, and said that that was the third time they had come to identify him and the corpse was getting worse with time.
A visibly shaken Mrs Jennifer Enanana, elder sister to late Mr Jones Ifeakanwa told newsmen, “I am testifying that this is my brother Mr. Jones Ifeakanwa. He was identified at the crash site. He wasn’t burnt. He had his identity card with him and some other documents in his pockets, with those they identified him.
“When we were there last Tuesday, it did not take them up to five minutes to get him to us. They even told us that we were very lucky so they wrote his name on the body bag he was in. When we went in there, we identified his clothes and birth marks on him and everything was okay. “They told us that within 48 hours he will be released. But that was not to be because they said they wanted to do DNA.
“So on Saturday we went back to check if he was properly taken care of, we found out that he was getting worse. His face was peeling off, he was deteriorating and I showed my grievances and I said to them that I don’t like this and asked them when they are going to release his body to us.
“Luckily enough, Fashola said we should meet him on Sunday, which most of us did. The place was packed full with people. It was agreed there that all identified bodies should be released. Can you imagine as at Friday last week, they had released six bodies without us knowing. “Meanwhile they were telling us that they need DNA but they were releasing bodies without people knowing. Six bodies have gone out. It was yesterday that we got to know about it.
In another development at the mortuary yesterday, an angry relative of one of the deceased attacked LASUTH officials with a cutlass but the assault was interrupted by a special squad of the Rapid Respond team of the Nigerian Police.
As the police held the angry relative, he was shouting, “You people can eat my brother’s body if you want, since you don’t want to release him to us.”
However, the Nigerian Police has stationed a special squad of the Rapid Respond team to man the mortuary 24 hours because of these unpleasant developments at the mortuary in recent times.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday suspended Air Nigeria’s flight to undertake checks on the airline’s fleet.
This is coming a few days after DANA Airline was grounded over the crash on June 3, 2012 that led to the death of over 153 persons.
Air Nigeria’s flight suspension was as a result of its inability to operate for more than a week after labour related issues prevented it from doing so. The Nigerian Association of Aircraft Engineers and Pilots (NAAPE) held down the carrier for huge debts owed the workers and alleged lack of welfare.
The management of the airline reiterated that its daily scheduled flight operations to London still remains as it was not affected by the strike action.
Spokesman for NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said there was nothing unusual about the suspension and added that it was a routine action to enable “we look at them before allowing them to go back to operation. Again, having been on strike for more than four days, it was mandatory they are certified before allowing them to come back to operation. This is normal”.