The Ondo State Government, yesterday, said it did not hire the aircraft of Associated Airline, which crashed last Thursday in Lagos.
State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade in a statement in Akure, said the clarification would not have been necessary at the time the state and families were still mourning those who lost their lives in the crash, but for inaccurate media reports.
The statement reads: “It explained that 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 statement said, 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 Funerals 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.
“It was indicated in his message that IRS was not available for conveying human remains; Dana aircraft had gone for maintenance; and Arik does not fly the Akure route.
“He, therefore, suggested Chachangi as “the best offer””.
The government further indicated that “it was neither the wish nor the prerogative of government to indicate any preference for a particular airline.
“The interface with MIC at the instance of the family, was necessary for facilitation of payment,” insisting that, “at no time was Associated Airline mentioned.
The statement emphasised that “this is definitely not the time for this as we are still mourning, adding that, ït 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”.
The government thanked the Federal Government for ordering a thorough investigation into the crash in order to prevent recurrence of such tragedies, imploring the team of investigators to leave no stone unturned in the course of their investigation.
Further, the government said it “wishes to place on record its appreciation of the active and timely involvement of the Lagos State Government through its emergency agency as well as federal emergency agencies.
“We thank the management and staff of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital LASUTH, and other medical facilities who came to the rescue of the survivors.”
The state government also “sincerely thank those who have shared in our pain by identifying with us at this time.
“We implore you to pray for the repose of those who lost their lives in the ill-fated crash and also continue to pray for all the bereaved families,” the statement read.