Senate Summons Aviation Minister, Others Over Plane Crash

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Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and the Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA were yesterday summoned to appear before the Senate on an undisclosed date to brief senators on the situation of the aviation sector and the resurgence of crashes in the national airspace.

This followed the crash of Associated Airlines’ aircraft in Lagos which claimed 15 lives; the loss of the tyres of Kabo Air aircraft when it made emergency landing in Sokoto and the suspension of Dana Air, all of which occurred within one week.

The Senate while inviting the minister and the chief executives of the aviation sector, in a resolution condemned the resurgence of plane crashes in Nigeria and inability of relevant agencies to unearth the causes of the incidents.

The Senate also mandated its committee on aviation to, as a matter of urgency, investigate the causes of the crash and ascertain the level of compliance by relevant agencies with the recent resolution of the Senate on the Dana air crash and air safety.

It further mandated the committee on aviation to investigate and identify lapses in the operation of laws and regulations guiding the aviation industry by the ministry and all its agencies with a view to correcting and streamlining same in order to avert further disasters.

Senate noted the unfortunate crash of the associated Airlines’ propeller airplane EMB190 bound for Akure with the remains of a former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu and 20 passengers on board on Thursday October 3, 2013, and regretted that Nigeria had witnessed seven fatal air mishaps and averted crashes within the last two and half years which it said was unprecedented in the history of plane crashes in the country.

The resolution to summon the aviation minister and chief executives of the aviation parastatals was as a result of the motion sponsored by Senator Hope Uzodimma (PDP, Imo West).

Senator Uzodimma chronicled the number of air disasters that had claimed the lives of Nigerians as a result of negligence by those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the air space was safe.

According to him, Allied Airlines (cargo aircraft) crashed on June 2, 2012 in Accra, Ghana killing about 10 people on the ground; Dana crash of June 3, last year, claimed the lives of 153 people on board, while the Nigeria Police helicopter that crashed on March 23, last year, killed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, DIG John Haruna and three other officers on board.

He also said that the Odenegene Air Services (OAS Helicopter) crashed on a flight to Akure in 2012, killing all on board and the Augusta 109 Helicopter that crashed in Bayelsa State killing the former National Security Adviser, NSA, General Andrew Azazi; the Kaduna State Governor, Sir Patrick Yakowa; two naval pilots and two aides to the governor.

The Senate said it was worried that resurgence of plane crashes in the country since 2011 was suggestive of a deep-seated system problem that must be unravelled and resolved in order to avert further, unnecessary loss of lives.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary commended members for the passion expressed while contributing to the motion, stressing that it was a pity the country had lost many lives as a result of air mishaps and that every life must count.

Ekweremadu said that one of the problems in the aviation sector was the issue of safety standards and that the problem of the sector was from those saddled with the responsibility to enforce standards, adding that the Senate would make sure that every regulation was enforced.

Contributing to the motion, Senator Ali Ndume, PDP, Borno South said going by the contributions of the senators, what they were doing was lamentation and that they were not elected to lament, adding that resolutions taken by the senate were not implemented.

He said: “Last time we said that Dana operations should be withdrawn, they said no. Only last week, they said Dana has been suspended. We should ensure compliance after motions have been passed.” [Vanguard]

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