30 January 2013

Nigeria: NASS to FG - Revoke Dana's Licence, Sack NCAA Boss, Demuren

Abuja — THE National Assembly, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, revoke the current Air Operating Certificate, AOC, of Dana Airline on the grounds that its issuance failed to meet the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations of 2009.

The revocation order by the Senate is coming on the heels of commencement of operations, January 4, 20213, by Dana Airline, seven months after the revocation of its licence.

The National Assembly also called on the Federal Government to sack the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Mr. Harold Demuren, alongside Engineer Suleiman Akwuh, who carried out pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana aircraft, for professional negligence.

These were some of the recommendations adopted by the Senate, yesterday, following discussions on the report by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Aviation on the Crash of Dana and Allied Aircraft last year, following the crash of Dana Aircraft in Egbeda, Lagos, on June 3, 2012.

Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West), also recommended that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, must go after the Chief Executive Officer of Air Nigeria, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, to recover the N35.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund, which he was said to have diverted into estate development.

The fund was extended to Air Nigeria, guaranteed and disbursed by United Bank for Africa but was allegedly diverted to other uses.

Out of the 16 recommendations by the Committee, the Senate adopted 14, among them, that the staff strength of NCAA be totally overhauled with a view to injecting technically and professionally qualified personnel to enhance its regulatory role in accordance with the international best practices and to enable them respond promptly and adequately to air accidents in the country.

The Senate also agreed that the management and operations of NCAA remain autonomous and all aircraft investigation reports be made public, adding that NCAA should compel all airlines involved in accidents to settle all outstanding insurance obligations and ensure that current operating AOCs have reliable insurance cover in line with the Civil Aviation Regulations.

According to the Senate, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, as well as Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, must be properly equipped with well trained staff and equipment to enable them carry out their responsibilities.

Senator Atai Idoko,ANPP, Kogi East, said "In most countries of the world, as soon as this kind of report comes out, people will begin to resign. I believe all the people indicted in the report have no business holding offices. They should be charged for manslaughter. Jimoh Ibrahim must be arrested by the EFCC and recover the money he collected and diverted into estate development. The executive must implement the report as the Senate is tired of coming out with recommendation after thorough investigation on issues of national concern only for the executive to receive and sit on it".

Senator Chris Ngige, ACN Anambra Central who noted that those who were indicted in the report must not only be removed, but prosecuted, said, "It is unfortunate that most of the pilots are foreigners, they don't find Nigerians fit enough to fly the aircraft.

He recalled that the Senate did resolve that Dana Airlines suspend flying while Harold Demuren step aside pending the outcome of investigation but regretted that the Airlines have started flying the Nigerian airspace again.

Senate President, David Mark, who presided noted that air travelling has become the fastest means of travelling in the world, saying "we cannot afford to key in".

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