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Lisa: Remote Village Made Famous By Disaster

Posted by By Yusuph Olaniyonu, Max Amuchie and Toba Suleiman on 2005/10/24 | Views: 2664 |

Lisa: Remote Village Made Famous By Disaster

Yesterday, there were conflicting reports concerning where the plane crash-landed. Initial reports said it was somewhere around Kishi, a town in Oyo State that is close to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. There was also information that there were 50 survivors.

Yesterday, there were conflicting reports concerning where the plane crash-landed. Initial reports said it was somewhere around Kishi, a town in Oyo State that is close to Ilorin, the Kwara State capital. There was also information that there were 50 survivors.

THISDAY team was already approaching Ibadan from Lagos, when a call came through that it was not Kishi but Lisa, a village sandwiched between Sango and Ifo in Ogun State.

To get to Lisa, one has to reach Ijoko, then after the disused salt factory, a branch to the left immediately after the railway crossing will take one to Oyero, another community, known for its masquerade. The terrain from Oyero to Lisa is bad. The road is a downward slope that has been adversely affected by erosion.

Motorcycle operators made brisk business by taking passengers from Oyero to Lisa. Still, many vehicle owners decided to face the challenge of driving down there perhaps in desperation to witness first hand this unmitigated disaster. Vehicles of different shapes were on the road. A fire-fighting truck belonging to the Lagos State Government was sighted. It couldn't go further on the bad spot from Oyero to Lisa village.

Lisa is a small village belonging to the Egba people with homestead in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. It is bordered by Layemi village, which was to share the wreckage of the disaster. Lisa is located on a lowland. A very typical village, the houses are made of bricks and thatch, arranged haphazardly. Opposite the village is bush. Behind the village is a forest of trees. It is in this forest, the villagers have their farm lands. It is located about two kilometres from where they reside. And here was the scene of the disaster.

The perimeter of the disaster is about 500 meters in length and 400 meters in width.

In this area, whole farmlands belonging to the acting village head and chief Imam of Lisa, Pa Sadiku Odugbemi and the Layemi family were destroyed.
The cocoa and kolanut trees appeared to have suffered more in the disaster. Many trees were felled while several others were cut. At the time of filing this report, some clothing belonging to the victims were still hanging on the trees, giving the plants a morbid look.

At the scene, different parts of the aircraft were being picked by officials of the Nigerian Red Cross, the National Emergency Management Authority, Federal Road Safety Commission, the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps.

Beside the wreckage of the aircraft, what drove not a few people to tears were the mangled bodies of victims being picked by disaster management officials. Different parts of the bodies of victims, some burnt, some fresh were picked and packed in big white plastic bag. The body parts were not just on the ground alone. On the trees too, there were body parts hanging and dangling such that people who thronged the scene were walking carefully to avoid any human part falling on them.

The stench from the mangled bodies was such that everybody that came to the scene was closing their mouth and nose. It is expected that as the days go by, the stench would be more.

The aircraft, when it nose-dived dug a very big hole and was buried deep inside. As at press time, smoke was still oozing out from the ground, meaning that the frontage of the plane that dug in was still burning.

Personal items like tickets, papers, bibles, documents were scattered in the area and people were picking and scrutinising them may be to further identify the victims.

For instance, Mr. Kola Aduloju, the personal assistant to Alhaji Abubakar Argungu, the postmaster-general of the federation, who also lost his life in the incident, chanced on his boss' KLM ticket with which the deceased travelled from Zurich, Switzerland back to Lagos on Saturday before embarking on the ill-fated journey to Abuja. Aduloju, in a mournful tone, described how he and his boss returned from Amsterdam on Saturday and he (Aduloju) was to join him in Abuja yesterday.

Also, THISDAY picked the complimentary card of Joseph Agharite, chairman of NIGERSTALG (Nigerian States and Local Government SMEs Development Scheme) at the scene. Different ticket stubs used by General Cheick Diarra, a Malian, who was deputy director-general of ECOWAS, were also seen at the scene. There was also a letter on the heading of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) addressed to Alhaji Umaru Hassan.

Before THISDAY left the scene yesterday, relatives of some the victims had started coming to the scene. Two young men and a lady came crying. They went to the hole, where the smoke was oozing out and came back. When THISDAY approached them to express sympathy, one of the young men said they came because of their relation, who was a crew member, Miss Lulu Ukuwelah. A man believed to be the husband of Mrs. Remi Olaniyan, another victim and two ladies, who said they were her sisters were also at the scene. The ladies burst into tears when they got to the scene and saw the wreckage and the fact that no victim could be identified. Callers at the scene included the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Alhaja Salmot Badru; deputy inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro; newly promoted Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tunji Alapinni.

Others were the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Mrs. Titi Oseni; Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Ishola; Commissioner for information and strategy, Mr. Niran Malaolu; health commissioner, Dr. (Mrs.) Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Folake Marcus-Bello.

Badru and the entire team, who almost wept at the sight of the gory scene, described the incident as very unfortunate.

She said: "With what I am seeing, rescue operation will be difficult. It is sad and unfortunate for the entire nation, not only to the families of the victims, I know God giveth and God taketh. It is bad day for the country."
"It is a national disaster. Since yesterday (Saturday), we have been hearing of the plane and that of the death of the mother of the nation. The whole state is in sober mood. Unfortunately, the two incidents have been confirmed. It is a tragic situation," she said.

When asked to confirm if Mrs. Maria Sokenu, the co-ordinator of Ogun State Employment Generation Programme (OGEGEP), was on board the crashed aircraft, she said: "Well, we are not sure. People use other people's names to purchase air tickets. I am not sure she travelled out of the state because she was not on any state assignment."

Mr. Olatunji Oguntoye, Unit Head of Operations, Ota Command of the FRSC, who said he and his men arrived the scene at about mid-day yesterday, said his team was waiting to liaise with other rescue agencies on when they would bring necessary equipment to salvage the remnants of the plane still buried underneath.

Obasanjo-Bello said there was nothing the Ogun State rescue team could do since there were no survivors. She said given the nature of the crash, it would be impossible to have survivors. She said the rescue team was trying to collect body parts of victims scattered all over the place. The other challenge, she said, was to get professionals that would locate the black box so that the cause of the crash could be ascertained.

Professor C. I. Ohiku, chairman, Ogun State branch of the Nigerian Red Cross, described the crash as a tragedy. He said even if the crash had taken place in the afternoon, there still would have been no survivors because of its nature of the crash. According to him, the villagers initially thought it was thunder and that was why the news was initially delayed.

Ohiku picked holes with the aspect of disaster management, describing it as very poor. He said he had been at the scene for seven hours as at the time THISDAY spoke to him yesterday and that people would just come, watch and go. "We still have to get the body parts and bury them. That's how we got parts of three people. Itís part of our culture," he said.

Dr. Ade Abolarin, Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, said it was still early to speculate on the cause of the crash. He said that would be sorted out in due course.

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