30 January 2013

Nigeria: Senate Orders CBN to Recover N35.5 Billion From Jimoh Ibrahim

The Senate yesterday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to recover its N35.5 billion intervention fund disbursed to Air Nigeria, owned by a business mogul, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim.

The Senate had at its plenary yesterday accused Ibrahim of diverting the fund to finance other concerns other than its original mandate.

These were fallouts of the Senate adoption of the probe report of a joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, carried out on the fatal air crash involving Dana Airline on June 3, 2012.

The probe report earlier adopted by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation also recommended the removal of the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren over "professional negligence and incompetence" resulting in the fatal Dana plane crash that claimed 153 lives of passengers on a scheduled trip from Abuja to Lagos.

The Senate report also directed that Dana's current Air Operating Certificate (AOC) should be revoked on the ground that it was not issued in compliance with NCAA's Civil Regulations Guideline 2009.

The report recommended that NCAA inspector, Engineer Suleiman Akwuh who did pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana Aircraft without prerequisite professional qualification should be dismissed from service. Also, that Demuren who approved and deployed the officer should be sanctioned for professional negligence. The report reads in part, "(a) NCAA under the leadership of the current Director-General, Dr. Harold Demuren brought in MD83 to operate in Nigeria even when there is no licensed engineer rated on the aircraft.

(b) For the period under review Dana operated 14 air returns caused by system failure which is a sufficient indication of imminent danger.

(c) Up to the time of this report, NCAA is still without any licensed engineer type-rated on MD83 yet it is going ahead with technical audit on Dana operations with a view to restore its license. This constitutes negligence.

(d) The tenure of the current Director General of NCAA has expired 3 months before Dana crash occurred on 3rd June, 2012."

The report recommended that the staff strength of NCAA should be totally overhauled with a view to inject technically and professional qualified personnel to enhance its regulatory role in line with the international best practices.

Tuesday's development comes after the Senate had come under fire from select quarters over fears that it might have compromised in its probe.

In one contribution at Tuesday' plenary, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauchi/PDP), said the recommendations of the committee answered "our critics that the parliament has compromised its functions," adding that "the Senate must follow up and ensure the recommendations are implemented by the executive".

Commenting on Senator Victor Lar, (Plateau/PDP) on Demuren said, "It is a shame to this country. He must not only be removed but prosecuted for a negligence of duty."

Senator Ali Ndume, (Borno/PDP), regretted that Dana was allowed to fly when investigation was still ongoing.

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