The family of Lt. Adeyemi Sowole, the co-pilot of the Navy helicopter which crashed on Saturday in Bayelsa State have expressed disappointment that authorities have only reckoned with the dignitaries that died on the flight.
The co-pilot’s elder brother, Taiwo, said the government had not treated other victims as important as the two dignitaries – Gen. Andrew Azazi and Governor Patrick Yakowa – on board.
Taiwo, spoke with our correspondent on Tuesday, at the family’s 28, Akintoye Street, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos home.
The ambience was sombre, as relations and friends sat around Adeyemi’s father, Solomon, in the family’s sitting room.
Words were few. But some of the sympathisers intermittently offered prayers to break the silence.
The deceased’s brother said, “All lives are equal. At this point, the right thing to do is for government to treat all the victims with respect and give them the same recognition.
“But it seems as if only the dignitaries on board the helicopter died. Adeyemi is also important.
“Adeyemi and a senior colleague lost their lives also. They are equally precious to their families. It was their responsibility to transport the dignitaries even though their own lives were on the line.”
Another family member, an aunt of the deceased, broke down in tears. She expressed sadness that while the news about the crash was circulating, authorities only focused on Yakowa and Azazi.
“It’s like the people in government see our son and his colleague as unimportant. Is it only Azazi and Yakowa that died in that crash? Why can’t they sympathise with us as well? The incident happened and all they were talking about were the two government officials on board,” the aunt, who declined to give her name, stated.
Taiwo described his brother as a humble man, who loved his job since he was young.
He said he never believed his brother would die doing what he loved best: flying.
Adeyemi was the fifth child of his parents’ seven children.
Taiwo said, “We called him ‘Yemi Olopa (policeman)’ because he always behaved like one. But when he got into the Nigerian Defence Academy, it was a dream come true for him.
“He loved what he did so much that he never expressed fear at any point in time about the nature of the job.”
Adeyemi graduated from the NDA in 2005 having studied Geography and trained as a pilot.
Taiwo said the last time he spoke with his brother was about 10 days before the crash.