Monday, December 24, 2012

Bayelsa crash: Pilot’s family accuses authorities of partiality

He was aged 32, got married on March 26th 2011 to his wife, Eniola and had his first daughter, Teniola barely nine months ago. He was the bread winner of his family and his parents are still alive. That is the sad story of Lt. David Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the ill-fated Navy helicopter that crashed on Saturday in Bayelsa state.

The family of Lt. Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the Navy helicopter which crashed on Saturday in Bayelsa State have expressed disappointment that authorities have only reckoned with the dignitaries that died on the flight. ”

 The co-pilot’s elder brother, Taiwo, said the government had not treated other victims as important as the two dignitaries – Gen. Andrew Azazi and Governor Patrick Yakowa – on board.

Taiwo, spoke with our correspondent on Tuesday, at the family’s 28, Akintoye Street, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos home.

The ambience was sombre, as relations and friends sat around Adeyemi’s father, Solomon, in the family’s sitting room.

Words were few. But some of the sympathizers intermittently offered prayers to break the silence.

The deceased’s brother said, “All lives are equal. At this point, the right thing to do is for government to treat all the victims with respect and give them the same recognition.

“But it seems as if only the dignitaries on board the helicopter died. Adeyemi is also important.

“Adeyemi and a senior colleague lost their lives also. They are equally precious to their families. It was their responsibility to transport the dignitaries even though their own lives were on the line.”

Another family member, an aunt of the deceased, broke down in tears. She expressed sadness that while the news about the crash was circulating, authorities only focused on Yakowa and Azazi.

“It’s like the people in government see our son and his colleague as unimportant. Is it only Azazi and Yakowa that died in that crash? Why can’t they sympathize with us as well? The incident happened and all they were talking about were the two government officials on board,” the aunt, who declined to give her name, stated.

Taiwo described his brother as a humble man, who loved his job since he was young.

He said he never believed his brother would die doing what he loved best:  flying.

Adeyemi was the fifth child of his parents’ seven children.

Taiwo said, “We called him ‘Yemi Olopa (policeman)’ because he always behaved like one. But when he got into the Nigerian Defence Academy, it was a dream come true for him.

“He loved what he did so much that he never expressed fear at any point in time about the nature of the job.”

Adeyemi graduated from the NDA in 2005 having studied Geography and trained as a pilot.

Taiwo said the last time he spoke with his brother was about 10 days before the crash.

Adeyemi, according to him, was very concerned about their father’s coming 80th birthday, which the family had scheduled for celebration in March 2013.

“Adeyemi insisted we should start planning for the birthday now. We discussed a lot of things, the hall to be used, the expenses and many other things. He said we would discuss it more when he comes home for Christmas,” Taiwo said.

Taiwo got the news about his brother’s death at 8pm on Saturday through one of his brothers.

“All we heard initially was that his helicopter crashed and we were praying at the time that it will turn out to be a hoax. We were hoping it would be a mistake because we thought Navy pilots only fly military personnel or the President and Vice-President,” he said.

Two of Adeyemi’s other siblings – Owolabi and Aderonke – have not come to terms with the fact that their brother was dead.

Owolabi explained that the last time Adeyemi called him, it was also to discuss their father’s coming birthday celebration.

He became suspicious when a friend of the deceased, who is close to the family, called him to request for his parents’ number.

“He called but did not say anything. He called my dad and mum and said he only wanted to find out how they were doing. He eventually called me again to break the news. I can’t believe I’m not going to see my brother again,” he said.

Aderonke, who was her brother’s “pet,” broke down in tears as she described the last time she spoke with him.

She said, “Anytime he was coming home, I would ask what he wanted to eat and he would say ‘you should know because you are my mum.’

“Few days before the incident, I asked if he was coming home for Christmas and he jokingly said ‘no’. I told him he dared not. He said he would come and I was looking forward to seeing him. I still wish all this noise about his death is just a rumor.


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