Nigeria - Fresh DNA Tests Delay Burial Of Dana Crash Victims

The burial of victims of the ill-fated Dana Airline flight 0992 has been delayed as the Lagos State Government officials handling the process of releasing the corpses Thursday set a new condition.
The number of victims’ relatives to undergo the DNA test has been increased from one to two.
The exercise is a prerequisite for the collection of the corpses for burial.
This came as the state government has said six persons residing in a two-storey building in which the aircraft crashed last Sunday are still missing.
Reporters gathered from some medical personnel that the DNA test figure was increased to eliminate any chances of mistaken identity.
It was learnt that the prerequisite was changed based on the meeting the handlers had with officials of Dana Airline who had insisted that a thorough job be done in pairing the right corpse with the right family.
A botched job could also affect the compensation process.
This sparked some resentment at the Pathology and Forensic Department of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, by the families and relatives of the 29 identified corpses who had submitted themselves for the DNA test. 
They were told that the number of those being tested did not meet the required figure.
Speaking on behalf of the others, a relative of one of the victims opposed the directive and said it was practically impossible for him to locate another donor for the corpse he had come to pick.
He said the difficulty was in the fact that the next biological family member of the deceased, his mother, was in far away Kano State and was too old to be conveyed down to Lagos just for a DNA test.
He said the entire DNA process was not necessary since he had identified the corpse. He however proffered that instead of bringing in another donor, he could provide dental records which would be paired with that of the corpse.
Lamenting the hurdles the relatives and families are facing, another relative, who identified himself as Mr. Anayo Okenachi, placed the blame on the handlers of the exercise, adding that the lackadaisical attitude of those in power influenced the near inaction.
He said: “I have thought over what happened when we came to do the DNA test and I came to the conclusion that it was caused by bad leadership. They are messing us up here because they know that we have bad leaders that do not care about our well-being.
“They have been playing games with us since Monday that we came to take away the corpse of my cousin. First we were made to pass through the identification process and then we were promised that the corpse would be released to us the next day.
“However when we came back on Tuesday, the story changed and they insisted that all the corpses must go through the DNA process, which we don’t have a problem with. Our grouse is that the DNA process has dragged long enough.”
He added: “On Wednesday, Prof. John Obafunwa addressed us and promised to kick off the DNA test with a donor but only for us to come back today (Thursday) and be told that two instead of one donor is needed.
“The challenge we are facing now is how to contact the deceased’s other brother who does not reside in Lagos, since they insisted that the donor must be biologically related to the corpse.”
Speaking to Local News Agencies, Mr. Mike Uchegbu, who came for his brother’s corpse, Chukwuebuka Philip Uchegbu, also faulted the process.
“Initially, the professor told us that a sibling could stand in but we only got to know this morning that what they require were two siblings. In my own case, I wasn’t aware of that and I had to start making arrangements to have my next sibling around.
“I don’t really understand the hassles they are taking us through. They say this today and another the next day. So far, the process has started and there is no way I would be left out after waiting for four days because I did not come with a sibling through no fault of mine,” he said.
Other relatives who spoke to reporters also complained about the slow pace of the entire process.
According to them, the pace at which the DNA test was being conducted would stall the burial arrangements they had made for their deceased.
An official of the state Medical Social Services Department (MSSD), Biodun Ogurinde, had on Wednesday put the time frame for the kick-off of the DNA test at 8am. However, the process did not actually start until 12 noon.
It was a long wait coated with tension for the families who had been booked for the test Thursday as the hours sped by. It was scheduled to last an hour for each group of four persons.
Fed up with the time wasting, an outburst soon erupted amongst the families and would have escalated but for the intervention of some senior hospital officials who appealed for patience as they had some technical issues to sort out.
At about the 12 noon that the exercise started, again, the donors complained about the time frame it took for one donor to complete a sample process, adding that the test might well extend beyond today at the pace it was going.
Checks revealed that the donors were subjected to a smear test where their saliva, and not blood, was taken and then their photographs taken too to assist the matching process.
Meanwhile, declaring the six persons missing, General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, also said 38 residents, who were displaced as a result of the crash, had been properly resettled by the state government.
According to him, of the five persons who sustained varying degrees of injury in the building, four had been discharged from the hospital while one was still on admission.
He reiterated government’s commitment to address the sufferings of the victims’ families, saying necessary supports would be given to alleviate their suffering, trauma and destruction.
He said Governor Babatunde Fashola had directed that a camp be opened to accommodate all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
He explained that the camp "has since been opened at Ipaja area of the state for all the displaced persons”.
He said some of the IDPs, who were traumatised and devastated due to the disaster, were being counselled at the camp in order to stabilise them properly pending a permanent solution to their plight.
At a session with journalists in Ikeja Thursday, Fashola explained why the state could not release bodies of the victims of the air crash.
The governor, who expressed concerns about the crash, said government "is mindful of the cultural and religious issues involved, but is being careful so as not to release wrong bodies to wrong families".
“Ordinarily, it is an aviation matter and a matter for the airline operators. But it has brought with it so many complexities,” he explained.
He thus appealed to victims’ relatives "to understand why certain things cannot be done as quickly as they would have expected. We have no reason at all to delay the release of the bodies of the victims to their relatives but the problem is identification”.
News Source: ThisDay

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