Friday, 24 March 2017

Inside the graveyard of the 117 Bellview Plane Crash Victims of Lisa + What residents told Asabeafrika


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The Main Entrance of the Bellview 117 Memorial Arcade, Lisa

Last Friday March 17, your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika paid a visit to Lisa village under Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State (South West Nigeria) It was an impromptu visit as we were specifically in Lisa to cover a funeral ceremony. But our journalistic instinct took a better part of us and we decided to visit the popular Lisa Memorial Arcade, site of the terrible Bellview Air crash of Saturday, October 22, 2005 that claimed the lives of 117 (One hundred and seventeen) Nigerians. On getting to the site, we met some residents of the community which is fast opening up with a booming real estate economy. However, getting down to Lisa from Ijoko (After Sango-Ota) was a equally a harrowing task as the road leading to Lisa was not only in a terrible condition but the over 15 minutes journey was quite tedious and challenging as well. From Ijoko, you are required to take a motor cycle (Okada) which is N200 naira per passenger.
The Arcade...Now sinking to the ground
On the bad road, you stand to suffer terrible dust flying over your face and momentary galloping of the motorcycle which jacks your anxiety from time to time. However, that is the road used by those living in Lisa and neighboring communities. However, the sad part of the tale is the fact that the 117 graves of the unfortunate Nigerians who died in that ill-fated Bellview Plane crash seems to have been abandoned to grass and rodents who are now the major landlords in that  eerie empire. Apart from few of the iron bars placed in strategic places indicating the grave numbers of victims which have rusted away, the land on which the arcade is built, has started sinking as well. The arcade itself is left un-kept and befitting of the memory of the VIPs who died in that crash. Some of the graves were also covered with dry grasses which shows a sign of total neglect on the part of the care-taker(s). Although, the site of the crash is said to be under the leadership of Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State. However, it appears that the leadership of the LGA has long forgotten the site and left it to its fate as just ‘an existing monument’. We met few of the residents of the Lisa community on the site who welcomed our team. One of the resident who is not only disturbed with the state of the road leading to Lisa from Ijoko but equally disturbed with the total neglect of the Lisa Arcade by government at all levels, volunteered to speak to Asabeafrika on how the arcade has fared in the last 12 years.  Enjoy the excerpts.



Mr. Michael Akintunde Oyelami, a very disturbed resident spoke with the GDA on the misfortune of the Arcade and the Area
Can you kindly tell us your name, sir?
My name is Michael Akintunde Oyelami. The site we are standing can be said to be the main purpose for the name Lisa, without Bellview Air crash, there is is no Lisa. It was when the aircraft accident happened that we started seeing the influx of people into this area. We living in this area are thanking God for such privilege. Even though it was a bad incident, but not withstanding, we know that out of any bad event good things always manifest. And with the development here, every year, every October which is the month of the incident, we always look forward to seeing people coming to pay homage to the memories of their loved ones that are buried here.
The Arcade under lock and key
How often does that happen in the last 12 years?
Yes, people do come but the influx is not encouraging. What I believe must have caused this is the nature of the road network (Ijoko-to-Lisa Road network). The road people use to transport themselves all the way from Ijoko down to this end. The road network is quite bad.
Mr. Oyelami to Asabeafrika....'This place has been long abandoned by the authorities'
Why is that road like that? I saw it yesterday and today as well. We learnt Julius Berger was given to build that road before former Governor Gbenga Daniel gave it out to another contractor. Can you tell us why you think the road is still in very bad shape?
The grave of a victim

Concerning the political aspect of the road, I cannot give any explanation. But geographically, this entire area lies on limestone and the impact of limestone on this environment shows every now and then,  especially during the raining season. This area has a lot of potentials to be tapped by Government.
Other graves with dirt upon them
So, you mean there is limestone here as a natural resources?
The GDA inspects the entire area of the Lisa Memorial Arcade
In fact from this place down to Ewekoro, it all lies on limestone. So, what we are saying is that even if the federal government want to enjoy the full potential in terms of geography, this road is the shortest linkage to Mowe-Ibafo.
Mr. Oyelami to Asabeafrika...'This land is blessed with limestone'
You mean this same road?
Yes, just at the back of this road (pointed to the right direction), we have the shortest route to Mowe-IBAFO just at the back of that river. We have Mowe-Ibafo road.
You mean the same popular Mowe-Ibafo on Lagos-Abeokuta Express Road?
Yes, in fact you can easily connect the major Lagos-Ibadan express road up to Ibadan just from Lisa here. Less than 5 to 10 minutes drive. Yes, there is a small river demarcating the road, where people cross with canoe and on getting to the arable land, you take motor cycle to Mowe-IBAFO. Very short distance. Just a good road network or a bridge will join the entire space and bring development and equally create an ease of movement for residents.
Another Part of the Lisa Bellview Arcade
Do you think government has neglected Lisa village despite the geographical benefit and natural resources?
Mr. Oyelami pointing to a portion of the Lisa road that leads to Mowe-Ibafo by 10 minutes drive if a durable road is constructed
You can see with what you are observing here. Even though we have a care taker in charge of this arcade whom I don’t know if he is even being paid. So, if they can try to look into the issue of this area particularly the Bellview Arcade it will be good for us. You can see what they build for the Dana Plane crash victims at Iju Ishaga, I have been there. Maybe because that one is in middle of the city. But I can say this place surpasses that of Ishaga.  I mean the arcade of the June 3, 2012 Dana Air craft victims, there is nothing stopping them from doing same here. We have a large expanse of land here where government can build guest houses for people who will come and pay last respect to their loved ones. So many lands, and you can see that people are even developing their real estates here already. The power system is okay, to get water is not difficult. If Government can just pay little attention, the place will be okay.
The GDA inspects some abandoned graves
We learnt during the 10th year anniversary of this place in 2015, there was no  government patronage. Family members of the victims came only to find an empty environment. Was it that government forgot the date was at hand?
The GDA standing on a sinking portion of the arcade
We living here were counting the days, expecting that there will be influx of people and activity. Of course, few families of the victims came but on getting to this place, they met nobody on ground and there were no activities. It was even through the intervention of the residents here that we were able to inform the local government chairman at Ifo before they now sent in a representative to be on ground to just have discussion with the visitors, no special ceremony.
The GDA taking a total inspection of the entire area
(Cuts in) You mean, no food, no drinking and no celebration?
Food ke? That is too far (laughter), nothing.
The Board that displays the names of the 117 unfortunate Nigerians on the ill-fated Bellview Air Craft with their different sleeping wings
So, can we practically say that Lisa Arcade is forgoten by government?
It has been abandoned and forgotten. That is how we can qualify it, which is untenable.
So, what do you think Government should do to resuscitate the Lisa Arcade and honor the memories of the heroes of Lisa. I think it falls under ministry of aviation, culture and tourism and internal affairs?
The GDA inspects more area of the Lisa Memorial Arcade

Lisa Arcade, we have to bring so many people not only the ones you mentioned alone. We need the attention of the minister of works, he should look into the project of reconstructing the road network and put a viable road network that will enable free traffic from Sango-Ota to Lisa. Build a durable access road to lead us to Ijoko, to Sango and Agbado and other parts of Lagos. He should start thinking of such innovative solutions now. The presence of the minister of culture and tourism is also desired to come and inspect the area and think of what to do with the arcade. They should look for ways  to spend our tax to develop this area. I believe that civilization is not restricted to only the urban areas. Any village that has necessities of life, anybody can stay there conveniently. And let me tell you this, there is a mass movement of people from Lagos, especially, towards this area. Government should please, come and open up this area and let people live comfortably in Lisa. Number of people living in Lisa constitute a huge number of citizens living between the boundary of Lagos and Ogun State.
The GDA inspecting a grave of a top civil servant who died in the plane crash. The grave is now covered with dry leaves and dust
What about the road connecting Lisa from Ijoko?
The nature of the road is not good right now, they should do something urgent about it. That is the road connecting from Ijoko down to Lisa because it is quite expensive living here than even living in the city. If you don’t have money, you cannot live in Lisa because going out and coming back is quite expensive. Just to go out into town and come in is a fortune. It is like going on a journey. And all these are happening because the road network is terrible, going out is money, coming in is money. So, they should try and work hard enough to make life bearable for the residents of this area who were attracted to Lisa as a result of the plane crash. We have been attracted to this place and government should do everything possible well to ensure that we live in peace and harmony.  People are still buying lands here because land is quite affordable and civilization is taking the better part of Lisa.
The GDA and his host take a sad look at the abandoned Lisa Memorial Arcade

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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