The confusion within government circles reared its ugly head again on Thursday as Nigeria’s aviation and emergency authorities roll out conflicting casualty figures after a small passenger plane conveying the body of former Governor Olusegun Agagu to Akure for burial crashed at the Lagos airport.
Getting the right information about the exact number of passengers, crew, survivors and fatalities, was impossible for most of Thursday as officials provide inconsistent, even inaccurate information to journalists.
Early reports, based on information provided by authorities, said five passengers survived the crash, implying that as many as 15 may have died since the plane reportedly carried 20 people. The first official confirmation of numbers, by the Accident Investigation Bureau, at a press conference, lowered the tally of survivors to four. That would mean 16 people died.
Then, just before the briefing ended at about 4 p.m., the AIB announced that the figure had risen to six.
Such disparities should be understandable, given the volatility of the medical condition of those unfortunately involved in the accident. But the confusion was merely beginning to take a more embarrassing shape.
In hours, aviation minister, Stella Oduah, released a statement she personally signed, placing the casualty figure at 14, meaning six survived since at least all the sources agreed 20 people travelled on the plane.
While the minister’s numbers circulated, news agency Agence France-Presse, reported 13 deaths, and PREMIUM TIMES called up the minister’s spokesperson, Joe Obi, immediately, and he confirmed the report: 13 deaths.
About the same time, another agency, Reuters, reported 16 deaths, quoting Usman Muktar, Commissioner of the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau.
Mr. Muktar updated that figure when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him late evening Thursday. He said there were 12 confirmed deaths.
That should have closed the number mix for the day. But the Lagos state government had one more coming. Oke Osayintolu, General Manager, Lagos State Management Agency said 11 people died and four were hospitalized.
Key websites are sleeping
Meanwhile, 24 hours after the crash, here are the activities on the four websites that should have come handy in managing information about a plane crash in the 21st century.
The Ministry of Aviation’s website, http://www.aviation.gov.ng, is dysfunctional.
At the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, http://www.ncaa.gov.ng, the latest news previews President Jonathan laying the foundation for new International Terminal at Enugu Airport. It was published, May 18, 2013.
On the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN’s, website at http://www.faannigeria.org, latest news is on the visit of House of Representatives aviation committee to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. It was published March.
The latest press release is titled “Edo State Government unlawfully shuts down Benin Airport” published July.
On the Accident Investigation Bureau’s website, http://www.aib.gov.ng/, the newest information, is on the Interim Statement on DANA Air 0992 !!