The Ondo State Government and the family of late Governor Olusegun Agagu are now locked in a war of words over the hiring of the ill-fated Associated Airlines plane which crashed in Lagos while carrying the remains of the late governor to Akure for burial.
The Agagu family had two days ago issued a statement suggesting that the Ondo government hired the plane and that the speculation that the family did was “false, wicked and deliberate distortion of obvious facts.”
“We appreciate the immense support of the state government since the demise of Dr. Olusegun Agagu. But we would like to state here that we were only invited to point to the type of casket we wanted,” Femi Agagu, younger brother to Governor Agagu, said in a statement. “Every other arrangements including the flight, lying-in-state and even transportation to Iju Odo were made by the state government and MIC. For anybody to say we chose Associated Airline is total falsehood and we believe such report couldn’t have come from the state government quarters.”
But in a statement Tuesday, the Ondo government punctured the claim by the Agagu family, saying it had no hand in the hiring of the crashed plane.
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade in Akure, the government said a committee it set up met regularly with the Agagu family to draw up a burial programme agreeable to the family.
At one of the meetings, the statement said, the issue of 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,” Mr. Akinmade said. “The family thereafter introduced Mr. Tunji Okusanya (now deceased) of MIC Funeral 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 Ondo government said it was neither the wish nor the prerogative of government to indicate any preference for a particular airline stressing that 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.”
Saying it made the clarifications against its wish, the Ondo government added that “this is definitely not the time for this as we are still mourning.”
“It 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 Agagu family is yet to respond to the new statement by the Ondo state government.