Abuja - The Senate on Tuesday reiterated its call that the appointment of the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, be terminated.
The Senate also directed that the Airlines Operators Certificate (AOC) of Dana Airlines be revoked because it was not issued in full compliance with Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2009.
It also ordered the termination of the appointment of the NCAA Inspector, Mr . Sam Akwuh, who carried out pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana aircraft.
The Senate further ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to recover the N35.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund which was extended to Air Nigeria but was diverted to other uses.
It directed the Federal Government to make public the reports of previous investigations into all air accidents that had occurred in the country.
The directive followed the Senate’s adoption of the report of the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Aviation on the crash of Dana and Allied Aircraft.
The joint Committee in its report identified non-adherence to laid down regulations as the major challenge facing the Nigerian aviation industry.
It also reported that weak regulatory regime, declining and low professional competence in NCAA and the industry as a whole, were recurring problems affecting the industry.
Addressing newsmen, the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Hope Uzodinma (PDP-Imo), said that the recommendations were aimed at transforming the aviation sector and moving it forward.
``It is not personal about the NCAA DG but the entire aircraft inspectors.
``We have civil aviation college in Zaria. These young graduates should be recruited and trained so as to fill up vacancies created by the old and retired personnel,’’ he said.
Sen. Abdul Ningi (PDP- Bauchi) described the report as a vindication of the parliament and urged the Senate to ensure that the recommendations were implemented by the executive.
``This report clears the air on the criticisms that the parliament has been compromising on investigations.
``Since the Senate committee has refused to be comprised and has brought the report to us, we must make sure that the report is well implemented, ‘’ he said.
In his contribution, Sen. Victor Lar (PDP-Plateau) said that it was the responsibility of the parliament to insist on transparency and integrity in the aviation sector.
``I believe that we as a parliament should insist that the right thing is done or at least we get it right in the aviation sector.
`` How can one explain that in this age, a regulatory agency is headed by someone who is not qualified?" he asked.
He wondered why an aircraft that the manufacturers had de-commissioned was still allowed to fly Nigerians.
Lar also called for a complete overhaul of the aviation sector adding that the right engineers be employed to maintain specific aircraft that they had been trained to handle.
Sen. Ahmed Lawan (ANPP-Yobe) in his contribution said that reform in the aviation sector should go beyond remodelling of the airports.
According to him, while it is good to remodel airports, it is more important to ensure air safety of travellers.
``We must ensure that those who oversight the operators are competent, " Lawan said.
On his part, Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu) expressed surprise at some of the facts revealed in the report.
He said if the facts were ``chilling as they are it means that on a daily basis we are surviving by the share grace of God.
``Perhaps our aviation industry is not growing because people handling it are not competent enough to handle the industry.’’
Sen. Uche Chukwumerije (PDP-Abia) also described the findings as “blood chilling”, adding that it was an indication that the Nigerian aviation industry was a disaster waiting to happen every year.
Sen. Attai Ali (ANPP-Kogi) said that those indicted in the report should also be charged to court and tried for manslaughter.
``The report is scary, damning and without sounding alarmist, would make one scared to fly again.
``In other countries, before this kind of report comes out, people would begin to resign immediately because they have no business holding office again,’’ Ali said.
Senate President David Mark, who presided over the session, noted that Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) which was a very important project, was at the moment a failure.
Mark said it was frustrating for a pilot to fly without being able to communicate with the tower.
He said air travel was the fastest and safest mode of travel all over the world and Nigeria could not afford to lag behind in ensuring that it was safe to fly in its air space.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that on June 3, 2012, a Dana Airline flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed into a residential area in Lagos killing all 153 passengers on board.
Following the crash, the National Assembly thereafter called on their committees on Aviation to investigate the matter with a view to ascertain the air worthiness of airplanes in the country.