If individuals took their instincts more seriously, perhaps, the tragedy of last Thursday involving the embalmed body of late Governor Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State and the burial team traveling aboard the Associated Airline Flight, with registration number SCD 361, may have been avoided.
Indeed, Feyi, son of Chief Agagu, who was on board that flight, may have been spared the horrors of hospitalisation in the wake of the tragedy.
He is lucky to be one of the survivors.
Sunday Vanguard has been informed that shortly after the crash and the hospitalisation of the initial nine survivors including, of course, Feyi, it came to light that there were strong indications just before boarding the plane that all may not have been well. Two of the survivors later died that day.
Speaking to very close family friends and sympathizers as well as very senior government officials who came around on Thursday afternoon, the young Agagu disclosed that just a few minutes before the passengers of the ill-fated flight boarded, he did not feel very comfortable.
According to the family insider Feyi spoke to, “the young man said that once they got to the tarmac before boarding and once he sighted the plane, what struck him was the seemingly very old look of the plane”. Continuing, the source narrated: “Feyi said he didn’t like the looks of the plane. “He also said but for the importance and significance of the trip, his inner sense didn’t feel comfortable boarding the plane.
“In fact, Feyi said he told another survivor, Femi Akinsanya, that the plane looked too old and he didn’t feel like boarding.
“ But Feyi said he was told not to get himself worked up needlessly since this was not going to be his first time aboard a plane neither would this be the first old-looking plane that he would board.
“That was how he said he boarded the plane”.
Sunday Vanguard was later made to understand that the event which transpired between Feyi Agagu and his brother-in-law, Femi Akinsanya before they boarded that plane suggested that the former may not have had anything to do with the flight arrangement for the movement of his father’s corpse to Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Though 23years old, the plane, according to Balami David, the President of the National Association of Pilots and Engineers, during a television interview, reportedly operated some days before the ill-fated flight.
Sunday Vanguard was told by the source that Feyi recounted “how he and Femi Akinsanya boarded the plane and moved straight to the back end to take up seats.”
“Why Feyi chose the back seat”, the source said, “was more a function of his state of mind about the state of the plane rather than a preference for taking a back seat.
“When they sat down, Feyi told me that he and Femi simply prayed that they should just take off and land safely, oblivious of what lay ahead of them.
“Feyi said once they took off, everything happened so fast.
“What he also told me was that both he and Femi noticed what looked like a crack not far from where they sat at the rear end of the plane.
“He said everything happened so fast that by the time the plane crashed on the ground, it was that crack that had been noticed earlier that transformed into a gapping exit point upon impact on the ground.
“Feyi said the exit point created was where he and Femi escaped through”.
Another source further revealed that most of the survivors of the crash appeared to be those seated at the rear end of the plane.
This is further corroborated by the fact that the first point of impact was the frontal part which eventually caught fire soon after crash-landing.
And whereas there were insinuations about the entire crash, something much more interesting was to be discovered when rescue operations began.
The brown coffin in which was laid the body of Agagu did not as much get destroyed despite the impact of the crash and the fatality number of 13.
More, the embalmed body of the late Agagu remained intact inside the coffin when it was opened for inspection, a source disclosed to Sunday Vanguard.
That was not all.
The most intriguing part of the discovery was that the body of the neatly dressed Agagu who was to make a statement of sartorial flamboyance even in death (he was to be laid-in-state at a well organized reception by the Ondo State Government and his political associates) was not ruffled.
“The cap on his head stayed intact even after impact”, a source told Sunday Vanguard.
For a typically traditional society that Nigeria is, these discoveries got tongues wagging.
From the absurd to the very absurd, some insinuated that there may have been more to it than meets the eye for an accident because after claiming 13 lives, the dead was remained intact.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the coffin cargo was latched to the hooks in the cargo compartment of the plane.
It was also gathered that the coffin was in the rear end of the fuselage and, like those who survived the crash, it enjoyed the benefit of positioning.
However, aviation experts are of the view that sitting at the rear end of the plane is not a definite guarantee against fatality during an air crash.
They use the ASIANA Airline flight which crashed last July at the San Francisco Airport. The Boeing 777, while attempting to land at the sea-bordered airport, hit its tail on the concrete embankment, engendering a forced ejection of some passengers along with their seats. Those few passengers who died in that crash were those seated at the rear end.
By Jide Ajani