Two Years After, Dana Crash Inquest Ends Without A Verdict
Magistrate of the Lagos coroner, Oyetade Komolafe, on Tuesday announced the inability of the court to name the specific cause of the Dana airplane crash of 2012 that resulted in the death of 153 passengers and crew members aboard the plane, as well as 10 people on the ground.
Komolafe, who was delivering his judgement exactly two years after the crash, said the inquest was impeded by the “inconclusive” investigations of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
He commended Chief Coroner, Justice Lateefa Okunnu for constituting the coroner court in consonance under the Lagos State Coroner Law, but lamented that his achievements were limited by the unavailability of the report of AIB’s investigations.
The composition of the coroner had been triggered by popular civil rights lawyer, Femi Falana, who filed a petition requesting the State Chief Coroner to compose a coroner team for an inquest so as to determine the cause(s) of the air crash, and many other matters — pursuant to Section 15 of the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007, which stipulates that an inquest should be held whenever a coroner is informed that the death of a person within his district was in a violent, unnatural or suspicious situation.
Falana had stated in his petition that even when it was obvious that the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 aircraft was not in good shape, aviation officials still granted Dana airlines permission to fly the aircraft. He also said poor management of events that occurred in the lead-up to the crash necessitated the need for proper inquiry.
He said that although the pilot of the aircraft made a distress call several minutes before the crash, it was ignored by the airport authorities.
“The management of the disaster was crude, as members of the public had to use bare hands in the rescue operations,” Falana had said.
In all, Komolafe called a total of 17 witnesses to render testimonies, at the end of which he made a nine-point recommendation to authorities, as a guide for future response to air emergencies.
Topping the nine is the recommendation for the establishment of national body for logistics and supply for the body handlers and retrievals, which should meet at intervals.
He also recommended that forensic science laboratories should be established in all six geopolitical zones of the country, as well as the enactment of a national coroner system.
He recommended the provision of fire services in each local government of the federation, the provision of equipment for all emergency agencies, and the establishment of inter-linked radio unit service in all emergency units.