DANA CRASH INQUEST: Coroner threatens to imprison Dana Air official

A heated session, on Thursday,  at the coroner’s inquest into the June 3, Dana Air, plane crash  forced the coroner to threaten to imprison an official of the airline.

Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, said that he was unhappy with the reluctance of the testifying Tony Usideme, Dana Air’s spokesperson, to answer questions thrown at him by counsels.

“If I ask you a question and you don’t answer me, you will either go to prison,” Mr. Komolafe told the Dana Air spokesperson.

Dana Air’s attorney, Bolaji Ayorinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, kept fuelling the fire by frequently objecting to counsels’ “line of questioning” to his client.

Immediately after the coroner threatened to send Mr. Usideme to prison, a fresh round of protest from Mr. Ayorinde ensued forcing the coroner to say that he was merely “making a statement of fact” as stated in the Coroner’s Law of the state.

Both Dana Air and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) were billed to testify on Thursday.

Mr. Ayorinde, aided by Babatunde Irukera, counsel to Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) kept delaying proceedings with frequent interruptions of other counsels’ questioning.

At a point, arguments and counter arguments between counsels, over a magistrate court’s jurisdiction, stretched for over an hour, testing the coroner’s already stretched patience.

“I think we have over-flogged this issue, as to this is where we can go, this is where we cannot go,” said Mr. Komolafe, after he had read Section 33 of the Lagos Coroner’s Law which empowers the coroner to know and investigate the time, place and manner of death of the deceased in an accident.

Emmanuel Diala, AIB’s Engineering Director, presented the agency’s preliminary report to the coroner.

According to the report, only 15 percent of the aircraft’s wreckage was recovered from the crash site.

While adding that the recovered parts were enough to aid investigation, Mr. Diala stated that the agency had relied on crew log books, perishable evidences from the site, flight data and cockpit voice recorders, among others, in their on-going investigation.

Mr. Komalafe adjourned the inquest till Monday.

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