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Eulogies as crashed plane’s co-pilot’s funeral begins, AIB releases manifest


Bristow-Helicopter-Copy• We miss you, son, say parents, others
• Journalists denied access to survivors
• Ministry reads riot act to airline operators 

THE Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), yesterday released the manifest listing names of 12 passengers and crewmembers in the Bristow helicopter that recently crashed in Lagos.

The release of the manifest coincided with the funeral service of the co-pilot, Peter Kayode Bello (Jnr), in Calabar, where his parents, friends and colleagues spoke glowingly of his good nature and career success.

In the meantime, the Federal Government yesterday urged airline operators to promptly pay their dues to avoid embarrassment. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Hajiya Binta Bello, gave the advice at a consultative meeting with members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) led by its chairman, Captain Nogie Meggison, in Lagos.

The Sikosky S76 C+ helicopter, marked 5N-BGD, which departed SEDCO oil platform offshore on its way to Lagos airport, had crashed on Wednesday, August 12, 2015, killing six of the passengers, including the captain and co-pilot.

Also confirmed in the manifest are names of Joseph Wyatt (captain) and Bello (co-pilot). The unfortunate incident occurred at the Oworonshoki area of Lagos.

Six passengers in the ill-fated flight survived. The names of the passengers, as contained in a statement signed by the head of the AIB’s public affairs department, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, are: Ita Ekpeyong, Joshua Emekeme, Dolu Ebiejuara, Onoriode Onojete, Chukwuma Erise and Solomon Udeh. Others are Chidi Ukwunta, Iniala Opaimi, Chris Abua and Chukwudi Onah.

Co-pilot’s funeral holds, burial deferred Meanwhile, the burial of the co-pilot scheduled for yesterday in Calabar did not hold, although the service took place at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Ikot Ansa.

The deceased was to be interred at Hawkins Cemetery in Calabar but his body did not arrive from Lagos for reasons that could not be ascertained.

Family members kept mum on the matter but inside sources said: “Some issues needed to be sorted out in Lagos” before the body could be taken to Calabar for burial.

Delivering a homily at the funeral mass, Rev Father Cochran, said: “Children of God gather at the cross, which is the ultimate symbol of Christianity…when the pain is unspeakable and the sorrow deep.

This, he said, is where comfort can be found. He called for support and prayers of fortitude for the family. He said they were expecting the remains of the deceased from Lagos and since this did not happen, it was “an extra pull on the heartstrings of those who loved him, the most, his family.

In the light of this, the family needs as much support as they can get.” He said Christians believe in the resurrection and life eternal and to be a Christian and say the opposite is to reject being a Christian.

Parents of the deceased, Mr. and Mrs. Peter and Thelma Bello, said: “We thank God for 26 years, for the wonderful times we shared with you. We thank God for your life and all it meant to us.

We can only live with these memories. We are confident, blessed that God has better plans for us because He is a good God. Lord, help us to know you more.

All we wish and pray is that your death brings others to know who God is. God is sovereign. We love you; we miss you. Rest in the bosom of the Lord.”

The Lagos Base Manager of Bristow Helicopters, Captain Ayo Stilo Oni, in a tribute, described the late co-pilot as a shining star. He said he was one of the few cadets who felt very comfortable with the controls especially for his experience level and always wanted to know more, “He was never late for flights, and never had an excuse not to fly it was his passion.”

A vigil mass was held on Wednesday with large number of sympathisers in attendance. More than 340 persons signed the condolence register.

Journalists, others barred from visiting survivors In Lagos, where survivors of the crash are reportedly receiving treatment, hospital authorities have refused to open up on their condition, as visitors and journalists are barred from seeing them.

The Guardian had visited the hospital twice but was prevented by front desk officers from gaining access to the survivors. “You can’t have access to them,” said a female front desk officer.

Responding to request to see the hospital public relations officer or the medical director, she simply replied: “They are not around, even if they are around, you will not be allowed to see them.”

A reporter from another newspaper shared a similar experience: “After an hour of waiting, the chief matron of the hospital arrived. She explained that the patients were doing fine but they cannot be allowed to speak with the media. “She said she would get to the chief medical director to give the media update, a move that didn’t happen. We didn’t get to see the director and she didn’t come back to give a feedback.”

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