The Presidency has described as “callous, inhuman and devilish” rumours making the rounds that the first lady, Patience Jonathan, was responsible for the Dana plane crash that led to the death of over 150 people, including the 146 passengers on board.
The rumour, which had been circulating through emails, facebook messages, and other new media outlets, was that the Dana flight was prevented from landing at the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos because the airspace was closed for Mrs. Jonathan’s arrival about the same time.
The presidency through the Special Assistant to the President, Office of the First Lady, Ayo Osinlu, however described the rumour as false.
“We consider it callous, inhuman and devilish for anyone to have thought of wrapping such national calamity in political garb by insinuating that the plane crashed because the airspace was closed for the First Lady’s movement in Lagos,” Mr. Osinlu stated.
The spokesman explained that Mrs. Jonathan arrived in Lagos a day before the air crash saying “the First Lady arrived Lagos at about 2 p.m. on Saturday, 2nd June, 2012 for a private engagement and was billed to leave for Abuja on Monday, 4th June, 2012 in compliance with her itinerary.”
Mr. Osinlu further explained that Mrs. Jonathan was at an event in Lagos when the plane crashed.
“She (Mrs. Jonathan) was at a public event on Sunday when the accident occurred and promptly abandoned the ceremony as a mark of respect for the victims and retired to the State House, Marina,” he said.
“Mrs. Jonathan had no intention to travel on Sunday and never did. Like all Nigerians, she has been mourning the dead.”
The first lady described the rumour as the act of “self-serving,” people, saying “this is the time for all Nigerians to be sober and pray for the repose of the souls of the victims and not a time to subordinate the interests of our nation to narrow self-serving interests.”