Falana Gives FG Ultimatum Over Ejigbo Military Crash Victims
Fiery Lagos lawyer and Human rights activist, Femi Falana, has vowed to take the Federal Government as well as the Nigerian military to court if they refuse to compensate the widows of the military officers who died in the Air Force C-130 that crashed in Ejigbo, Lagos state in 1992.
Falana, who was a guest at a programme organised by the widows of the plane crash at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Strong Tower Sanctuary, Ogudu Road, Ojota, lamented that 20 years after the crash that took away the lives of 166 strong aspiring military officers, nothing had been done to alleviate the sufferings of the widows and their children.
The list of the late military officers who were then students of the Senior Course 15, included 104 senior army officers, 17 Naval officers, 17 Airforce officers, eight foreign officers, 11 Nigerian Airforce crew and nine others.
Their aircraft crashed in a swampy area in Ejigbo, a suburb of Lagos state just three minutes after taking off from the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, with three failed engines as some sources in the aviation claimed then.
Till date, no panel of enquiry has looked into the issue just as none of the successive governments has made efforts to retrieve the information contained in the black box that accompanied the plane.
The military government had also promised to ensure that family members of the victims got all the benefits as approved by the government.
In 1994, following an instruction from the office of the Chief of Defence Staff, letters were given to the widows to the administrators in their respective states for assistance. Some complied while others rebuffed them.
Frustrated, the woman had come together and fought for the benefits accruing to them since then to no avail.
Falana, who said he had been studying the situation, added that the women's entitlements were long overdue and that since the government had decided to forget the women, he would take up the fight for them.
According to the lawyer, "the military authorities may immortalise them in anyway they may feel, but what is of crucial importance is how to take care of their wives and children.
"These women have gone through horror, some of them were thrown out of their official quarters just after a few days that they lost their loved ones.
"I just couldn't believe that the hapless widows have not been paid. I have spoken to some people in authority and I have been assured that their case will be attended to, but the women have been assured repeatedly for 20 years. So that is why I don't want to leave it at the level of assurance.
"If by the end of the month they have not been compensated adequately, we will be heading for the court."