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... How the crash site was looted –Police •Strangers looted the scene -Villagers

Posted by Rotimi Williams and AKIN OLUKUNLE on 2005/10/30 | Views: 2921 |

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... How the crash site was looted –Police •Strangers looted the scene -Villagers


AS the nation grieves over last Saturday’s Bellview plane crash in Lisa village in Ogun state that claimed 117 lives, a graphic account has emerged on how street urchins invaded the site of the crash and mindlessly looted the personal effects of victims of the tragedy.

AS the nation grieves over last Saturday’s Bellview plane crash in Lisa village in Ogun state that claimed 117 lives, a graphic account has emerged on how street urchins invaded the site of the crash and mindlessly looted the personal effects of victims of the tragedy.

The miscreants, who reportedly warded off attempts by policemen initially dispatched to the area to call them to order, combed the surroundings of the site despite the threat of suffocation from the burning plane.

Amidst the pieces of human parts such as ears, scalps, arms with chopped fingers and feet as well as shattered brains and intestines that littered the area, the urchins rummaged for precious items like rings, jewelries, handsets and raw crash.

In fact, a lot of them particularly searched for foreign currencies like the British pounds sterling and the American dollars because of their belief that it was the common practice for the elite to go about with such currencies.

While many of them openly jubilated after making what was considered a great find, others were unusually aggressive after futile efforts to obtain any perceived precious items.

There was confusion over the actual site of the crash Saturday night, with the initial report that the crash occurred at Kishi in Oyo state, before it was traced to Lisa in Ogun state.

However, both the police and leaders of the community are divided over where the miscreants who looted the site actually came from.

The commissioner of Police, Ogun State Command, Mr. Tunji Alapinni, during an interview with Sunday Punch, gave a vivid detail of how the villagers allegedly looted the personal effects of victims of the air mishap.

But one of the community leaders, Alhaji Lateef Ogunsola, who also spoke to our correspondents on the issue, absolved the villagers of any act of looting at the site, insisting that those who invaded the area shortly after the crash were “ strangers.”

Ogunsola, who is the Deputy Chief Imam of Lisa, said the community did not know how the so-called strangers got to know of the crash and the site as the leaders only sent information on the disaster to the police Sunday morning.

“I am not aware that people went to the scene to steal and loot from the victims whose bodies were lying at the site. It was surprising when I discovered that so many , uncountable strangers, besieged the village from no where. I do not know how they got the information on the crash. We actually sent people to the police the following day to alert them on the crash. Though I was informed of the high level looting at the site.”

Giving his own account on the incident, Alapinni claimed the villagers had carried out a large-scale looting of the victims’ personal effects before the police arrived at the site of the crash on Sunday.

“We got there only to see scattered papers, ransacked documents, but without a single bag or tangible possession. Not even a small suitcase. All the looting occurred before they informed the police.”

According to the police boss, his men could not easily gain access to the site because of the lack of a motorable road to the spot of the disaster.

“It was a wanton, high-level looting, some people even stripped some of the body parts, that was callous. That is to show you the level looting and raiding before we got there. You know, the crash happened in the night; then, the people had an ample time to conceal it and wreak the havoc they committed.”

Alapinni, who attributed the action of the villagers to poverty, accused them of exhibiting aggression by hurling missiles at him when he went to the scene of the crash

“They were abusing me by calling me names such as “stupid rich man.” They were so wild and heartless. In fact, despite the number of policemen on ground, one of the villagers wanted to rough handle me, asking us to leave the area immediately. But I gave him a dirty slap.”

Sunday PUNCH, October 30, 2005

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