An aircraft conveying President Goodluck Jonathan’s aides, landed in a primary school last Wednesday amidst pandemonium. Over 12 students were injured in the stampede
It looked like a scene from a movie. Initially, pupils of Apostolic Church Secondary School, Ketu, Lagos, saw the aircraft hovering in the air and this was enough to distract those sitting close to the windows from their early morning classes.
The teachers in different classes that morning were curious about what their pupils were looking at, so they also looked out of the window and saw that the plane was descending closer to the roof of the building.
No one needed to tell them to run. Once the teachers took to their heels, perhaps thinking it was air mishap, the students followed en masse. With loud screams, everyone ran as fast as their legs could carry them. Some of the students on the second floor of the school building attempted to jump down in a bid to save their lives. One of them was an eight-year-old JSS1 student who landed on her buttocks and could no longer stand. Eleven other students were severely injured.
While this pandemonium was going on, the airforce plane with number NAV541 landed on the school premises. Heavily armed soldiers alighted from the aircraft and surveyed the area without saying a word.
When the fleeing students and members of staff saw that the aircraft had successfully landed, they surrounded it, with curiosity written all over their faces. The scene further attracted passers-by and people in the neighbourhood who trooped to the school. The armed soldiers ignored the crowd, went back into the plane and, after a few minutes, took off.
The injured students were then taken to the school‘s official clinic, Delta Crown Hospital, Ketu, where some of them were given first-aid treatment and discharged. Two of the students were still in the hospital as at last Thursday, including the young girl who fell from one of the two-storey buildings in the school. An X-ray showed that the girl had no broken bones but she had a severe tear in her private part, which had to be stitched.
The mothers of one of the children who were admitted in the hospital pleaded anonymity and said, “I have five children in that school. I thank God that my daughter is alive and I‘m not crying. I am not ready to make a case of this or even talk to the media because God has given me a reason to rejoice and not cry.”
One of the people in the area who witnessed the incident identified himself as Yemi. According to him, he was about to have his bath when he felt the building shaking. He said, ”I live just two houses away from the school. I had an appointment that morning and was about to have my bath when I heard a very loud noise outside; my room was also vibrating. So, I looked out of the window and saw a plane moving towards the ground. I ran out of my house in my boxers.”
Yemi added that he joined the crowd when the plane landed. ”When some of the soldiers alighted from the plane, they left the door slightly ajar. I saw some soldiers inside, but some people whispered that the President was inside the plane.”
It was gathered that the pilot and some of the crew muttered that the plane had ‘a problem.‘
The school authorities declined to make any comment about the incident. It was however gathered that Ketu Police Division, and the Lagos State ministries of health and education visited the school and the hospital a day after Jonathan‘s visit.
The Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Frank Mba, could not confirm SUNDAY PUNCH‘s findings. He said, he was not aware of the incident.
The President was on a visit to the flooded areas in Ajegunle, Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area on October 20 when the plane made an emergency landing in the school.
The Director, Public Relations and Information of the Airforce, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas said, “It was a flight to survey the area where the president was visiting. It was not an emergency flight. The presidential aides were in it. We were not aware that 12 children were injured.”
Efforts to speak to the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Ima Niboro, proved abortive. When our correspondent called his mobile line on Friday night, he did not pick it. Neither did he respond to the text message sent to him.
It could be recalled that a Cessna Model T9B training aircraft belonging to the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, Kaduna State, crash-landed at a village just outside Kano on May 2, 2010. It plunged into a farmland at Katoge Village, directly behind the Science Secondary School at Dawakin Tofa, about 20 kilometres from Kano City.
Three occupants of the light training plane escaped unhurt and the aircraft was not badly damaged. Those on board the plane included the college instructor, Mr. Ozogwu as well as Akerele Ojo Olu and Jafar Suleman, who are trainees.