The confusion and general lack of direction that have characterised operations in the country’s aviation industry continued on Tuesday as two government agencies released conflicting manifests containing passengers purportedly on board the Dana Airline’s Flight No. 9J-922 which crashed in Lagos on Sunday.
The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, said shortly after the incident that 153 passengers and crew were on the ill-fated flight.
An official statement by the Dana Airlines management on Monday, signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Jacky Hathiramani, also confirmed the figure, saying 146 of those on the plane were passengers while seven were crew members comprising four cabin attendants,, two pilots and a flight engineer.
But there is a clear discrepancy between the figure provided by the minister/airline officials and those published by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), two government agencies charged with the responsibility of monitoring, supervising and regulating operations of the country’s aviation industry.
The NCAA, which is the regulatory body for the industry, had published on its website – http://www.ncaa.gov.ng/public/danaairmanifest.aspx – the names of only 133 passengers it claimed were on the flight manifest, though it reported 153 totals, including six crews. The agency later removed the document from the site after PREMIUM TIMES contacted it to request explanations for the discrepancy.
The list appears to have omitted a minimum of 20 names, if the total figure of 153 victims by Dana Airlines and the minister is to be believed.
FAAN also published on its website – http://www.faannigeria.org/images/faan/press_releases/dana-air_flight-0992-manifest.pdf – the pre-departure passenger manifest that contained only 152 names, one passenger less than the total figure of casualties declared by both Dana Airlines management as victims of the crash.
A close scrutiny of the manifest published by FAAN reveals that 140 of the total 152 were adults, consisting 113 males and 27 females, while there were six each of infants and children, including one female child and a set of twins (males) – Kayimarachi and Kayinetochi Anyene.
But apart from the obvious conflict in the details of the crash victims published by the two government agencies, it appears six of the names released among those said to have died in the crash may either not have made the flight, or their travel documentations were deliberately distorted for yet unclear reasons.
Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that a senior military personnel, Major General Tahir Umar, whose name was listed in the FAAN manifest as one of those who perished in the crash, may not have made the trip after all, as a scrutiny of the manifest shows that he was neither issued a boarding pass authorising him to travel nor issued a seat number on the flight.
Others whose names were also included in the FAAN manifest, but were neither issued boarding passes nor seat numbers. They include Abdulrazak Lawan, Tony Madichie, Chinero Okafor and Omonigho Akinsanya as well as a child, Imoyo Akinsanya.
A closer review of the passenger manifest by the NCAA shows that even with the 133 names published, the list contains at least ten names suspected to be fictitious, since they were either missing from the 152 published by FAAN, or duplicated more than once under different guises.
For instance, while the NCAA manifest had Abiodun Jonathan (62nd), Obianiyu Erokwu (65th), Priscilla Eleje (101st), Jonathan Ekeledo (104th), Onyijuke Ijeoma (109th), Lawal Ananobe (119th), Tibiebiowei Zuofa (127th), and Priscilla Yinusa (128th) on the list, the FAAN manifest has no such names.
Ms Erokwu’s is said to have demanded the management of NCAA to remove her daughter’s name from the publicised manifest as she did not make the trip.
It was gathered that some officials manipulated the NCAA manifest by omitting some prominent passengers’ names, such as those of the former Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Levi Ajuonuma, and the Deputy Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Inuwa Ahmed, while carefully introducing the fake names to set up a scheme to defraud the government and the airline.
Besides, there were some “passengers” names on the NCAA list that were also on the FAAN manifest, but whose owners may not have made the ill-fated trip, because there were no indications that they were issued boarding passes and seat numbers to travel.
In the FAAN manifest, Moyo Akinsanya and Omonigho Akinsanya were listed as child and male adult respectively. But, the NCAA manifest has Moyosore Akinsanya, first as a child on the 106th position and Omonigho Akinsanya on 108th position as female, and again on 116th and 117th position as Moyo Akinsanya and Omonigho Akinsanya respectively without any indication about their sex.
“The extra names included in the passengers manifest by the officials were to be used to file for claims whenever the company is paying compensation to the families of those who lost their lives in the crash,” a source close the NCAA told our reporter on Tuesday in Abuja.
“With those names, the officials would get some persons to pose as representatives of the victims for the purpose of collecting what compensation would be paid.”
Contacted, the FAAN spokesperson, Akin Olukunle, simply directed all enquiries about the manifest at NCAA officials. Sam Adurogboye, the NCAA spokesperson, requested our reporter to forward his enquiry directly to him via SMS. He did not respond to the enquiry as at the time of publishing this.