The remains of the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, were buried in a new casket in his home town in Iju Odo, Ondo State, on Friday in a sombre atmosphere devoid of any form of pomp and pageantry. Though there was a reception at the Civic Centre in the village, most of the guests shunned the reception.
The entire village wore a mournful look with villagers discussing the tragic plane crash that led to the death of 13 people in Lagos on Thursday. Though there was a large turnout of the villagers and dignitaries, the church service was solemn.
The Associated Airline with registration number SCD 361 conveying the corpse of the late former governor, some family members and close friends, crashed in Lagos on Thursday on its way to Akure less than two minutes after its take-off from the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, killing 13 persons on board while seven others survived. News of the crash led to the abrupt cancellation of the governor’s lying in state previously scheduled to hold in Akure, the state capital.
The state government had earlier constituted a burial committee in conjunction with the Agagu family. But the plane crash of Thursday resulted in the cancellation of all the burial arrangements leading up to his interment.
The family issued a statement early Friday stating that the family would made it a private affair. The statement signed by Femi Agagu, said in spite of the family’s bereavement, it still had the fortitude to mourn all those who lost their lives in the crash.
He said, “ Even in its own bereavement, the family deeply mourns the death of all those who lost their lives in the ill-fated plane crash which occurred when Dr. Agagu’s body was being taken home for burial.
“In deference to all the families who are in bereavement, and out of respect for the memory of the departed, the Agagu family has decided to scale down the details of the funeral to its barest and basic minimum.
“Accordingly, the funeral will now be a private family affair, shorn of all the pomp and pageantry of a state funeral.’’
He explained that the traditional Christian wake was entirely cancelled on Thursday because of the crash incident.
“The Agagu family deeply commiserates with all the bereaved families and prays fervently for the repose of the souls of all the departed, even as the family continues to remain in close contact with all the families affected by this tragedy,” he added.
Tears flowed freely on Friday from the eyes of relatives and sympathisers as the body of former Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Agagu, was laid to its final rest.
Agagu’s body arrived the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in Iju Odo at 1.50pm after a long wait for the corpse which arrived the venue by road from Lagos.
His wife, Mrs. Olufunke Agagu, who was clad in a dark blue lace with head tie to match and her daughters, Solape and Omowumi, could not hide their emotions as the casket followed the procession in the church for the funeral service.
The crowd was unprecedented and the church hall was just too small to accommodate the dignitaries, invited guests, sympathisers and mourners who thronged the occasion in their numbers.
Many had to stand outside the hall, while others stood looking through the windows as the procession went on.
President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Nav. Capt. Caleb Olubolade, said the death of Agagu coupled with the air mishap was a pain too heavy for his family to bear.
He said, while regretting the crash and those that perished with it, “We must thank God for those who survived.”
Jonathan prayed that such tragedy should never happen again, praying that God would grant the departed a resting place.
Rt. Rev.Joshua Ebunoluwa, the presiding bishop of the diocese, called on the mourners and other members of the congregation to seek the Lord and turn away from sin so that they might find a place with God at their death.
He said Agagu had died and would be going away with none of the things he acquired, admonishing the people to work for the afterlife instead of labouring so hard to get the world without God.
Agagu was finally lowered to his grave at the premises of the church at about 3.30pm, with members of his family paying their last respect.
Those in attendance included former Governors Gbenga Daniel, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Segun Oni, Alao Akala and other PDP chieftains.
The Minister of Communications, Mrs. Omobola Johnson and Senator Boluaji Kunlere, (Ondo South) were also in attendance.
APC expresses sorrow over plane crash
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress has condoled with the families of all those who died in the Thursday’s plane crash in Lagos.
The party, in a statement in Abuja on Friday by its Interim National
Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, prayed for the speedy recovery of those who were injured.
The APC expressed shock at the double tragedy, considering that the crash involved the remains of the late governor as well as his family and friends.
It prayed that God would give Agagu’s family and the families of all the victims the grace and strength to tide over the calamitous occurrence and the difficult days ahead.
CAN demands periodic audit of Airlines
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria has expressed its condolences to families of victims of the plane crash with a call on the Federal Government to embark on a periodic investigation and audit of airlines to ascertain their financial status before giving them operational licenses.
The President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, according to a statement issued on Friday in Abuja by his Special Assistant (Media and Public Affairs), Mr. Kenny Ashaka, received with bewilderment the news of the death of 13 persons in the ill-fated aircraft.
He said, “Coming barely 16 months after the crash of a Dana Airline in which about 150 passengers died, CAN believes that this record portends a bad omen for the aviation sector in Nigeria.
“We call on the Federal Government to come up with practical measures that would reduce the margin of errors in traffic air signals, mechanical faults and bad weather.
“The government should also undertake periodic investigations of the financial base and repair history of the Airlines operating in Nigeria in order to ensure that they do not adopt short-cut policies that would endanger air travellers.”
Oritsejafor also offered the association’s deepest condolences to the families of victims of the ill-fated aircraft, the government and people of Ondo State and prayed that God should give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Governors Forum demands prompt investigation of plane crash
But, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has called for the immediate probe of the crash.
The governors, in a statement signed by the Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, described the incident as shocking.
They said, “We hereby commiserate with the government and people of Ondo State and the families of all those who died in Thursday, Oct. 3 Associated Airline’s crash in Lagos as the body of late Governor Olusegun Agagu was being conveyed for burial.
“The incident is shocking and devastating given that the initial sudden death of Mr. Agagu himself was a huge tragedy in itself.
“We also demand a prompt and thorough investigation of this incident as that is the only way of assuring the Nigerian people that their airspace is safe for flying.”
The governors also commiserated with the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, and the families of all those that died in the accident.
Doctors battle to save Feyi Agagu’s life
Meanwhile, doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, are still battling to save the life of Feyi Agagu, the son of the late governor, who was involved in the crash. He was moved to a new ward on Friday for privacy.
P.M.NEWS undercover reporter observed as Feyi was earlier Friday being moved from the surgical emergency ward in LASUTH to the more comfortable Bola Ahmed Tinubu ward where he would have a better chance of survival.
Doctors who spoke with PM News on condition of anonymity all confirmed that Agagu’s son would receive better medical attention at the new ward which boasts of more medical personnel and state-of-the-art equipment.
“There are more staff there, more modern equipment and they will be able to monitor him every minute. He has a better chance of survival there,” a doctor said pleading not to be quoted because she is not authorised to speak with reporters.
Our undercover reporter observed that Feyi was not unconscious and could recognise family members and friends who were in the hospital today.
But he was weak, did not speak and seemed to be under pains. He tried painfully to make a sign to his relatives but his hand came down almost immediately.
Feyi was among the lucky seven survivors who are receiving treatment in three hospitals in Lagos.
Five of those who are receiving treatment are in LASUTH while one is at the Airforce medical centre and the other is in Gbagada General Hospital, said Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who visited the survivors on Friday morning.
Idris said he was satisfied with the level of attention the patients were receiving.
He said one of the survivors had a surgery on Thursday night and three were doing well and one is in critical condition.