Ondo State Government on Tuesday said it was not involved in the hiring of Associated Airline plane, which crashed in Lagos last Thursday while conveying the body of the late former Governor Olusegun Agagu to Akure.
The state also said that the airline was not on the list of airlines earlier listed and presented to the burial committee set up by the government to organise a befitting burial for the deceased.
These clarifications were contained in a statement by the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade.
A spokesman for the Agagu family, Femi Agagu, had reportedly said in a statement on Monday that the family did not hire the crashed plane.
Akinmade said the clarification became necessary in order to correct erroneous representations in media reports.
The statement read in part, “The Ondo state Government has clarified that it did not hire the aircraft of Associated Airline, which crash-landed last Thursday in Lagos, while conveying the body of former Governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, to Akure for the commencement of the burial rites.
“Its determination to give the former governor a befitting state burial made it set up a burial committee, which met regularly with the family of the deceased to arrive at a burial programme agreeable to the family. At one of the meetings, the issue of the transportation of the body from Lagos to Akure was discussed.
“The committee deferred to the family’s insistence that the body be moved to Akure by air. The family thereafter introduced Mr. Tunji Okusanya (now deceased) of MIC Funeral as the official undertaker, who would make necessary arrangements regarding the movement of the body and the funeral.
“Thereafter, the MIC boss forwarded the names of various airlines through an e-mail message to the Committee, namely, Aero Contractor; OAS Helicopters; Chachangi; Arik; Dana; and IRS as the airline operators that have been contacted.”
He said the MIC boss indicated in his message that IRS was not available for transportation of human remains and that Dana aircraft had gone for maintenance while Arik does not fly the Akure route, suggesting that Chachangi was the best offer.
“It was neither the wish nor the prerogative of government to indicate any preference for a particular airline,” Akinmade said, stressing that the interface with MIC, at the instance of the family, was necessary for facilitation of payment.
“At no time was Associated Airline mentioned,” the commissioner stressed.
“This is definitely not the time for this as we are still mourning. It is pathetic losing any soul in the course of paying homage to our former Governor, particularly government officials and other bread winners of their families, including the Managing Director of MIC, his son, and other workers of his company,” he added.
Akinmade’s statement indicated that the state government thanked the Federal Government for ordering a thorough investigation into the crash in order to prevent the occurrence of such tragedy in the future, imploring the team of investigators to leave no stone unturned in the course of their investigation.