Abuja – The Senate has ordered Dana Airlines to suspend its operations pending the conclusion of its investigation into Sunday’s air crash.
The Senate also directed the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, to step aside until all investigations into the air crash had been completed.
The resolution followed a motion by Sen. Hope Uzodinma (PDP- Imo) and 35 others on the crash of Dana and Alliance aircrafts in Lagos and Kotoko, Ghana, respectively.
Uzodinma, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, observed that this latest crash was an indication of negligence of regulatory functions in the aviation industry.
“The latest Dana aircraft crash is even more tragic than the previous ones with a total casualty figure of about 190 people including 153 passengers, six crew members and about 37 people on the ground.
“This crash is a wake-up call for all relevant authorities to rise to the challenge of ensuring that no effort is spared in making the nation’s aviation industry conform with international safety standards,’’ he said.
In his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, said it was imperative for relevant authorities to pay serious attention to early warning signals before they degenerate into catastrophes.
“The lesson in this disaster is for us to ensure that this does not happen again.
“We must learn to deal with early warning signals in our national life, even if they are false alarm, and begin to deal with them immediately before things turn into disaster,’’ he added.
Sen. Hadi Siriki (CPC-Katsina) urged the Senate to invite the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and aircraft manufacturers to participate in the investigations.
“ICAO, Boeing and others should be invited to take part in the investigations. The officials of NCAA should not be allowed to be part of the investigations.
“We must upgrade our Search and Rescue (S & R) operations to meet international standards. If S & R was effective most of those who died would have been saved,’’ Siriki argued.
Sen. Smart Adeyemi (PDP- Kogi) called for urgent review of aviation policies to ensure that agencies responsible for approval of aircrafts operating in the country were made to account for air mishaps.
“I think the time has come for us to review certain policies in aviation. Our people are not doing their jobs because of corruption.
“If we do not have the expertise to handle jet aircrafts, then let us revert to propeller aircrafts.’’
Also speaking, Sen. Helen Esuene (PDP- Akwa Ibom) urged the aviation authorities to urgently establish aircraft maintenance facilities in all airports across the country.
“We should take urgent steps to have standard aircraft maintenance units in Nigeria to service aircrafts in the country,’’ she stressed.
The Senate President, Sen. David Mark, said the Senate must ensure that its recommendations were implemented by the executive arm of government.
“We make recommendations but this time around, we must insist that when we make our recommendations, the executive must act.
“Whatever our findings are, if they are found to be correct, people must be disciplined because there is too much forgiveness.
“People just commit offences and get away with it and I think this is one offence too many and all those involved must be brought to book.’’
Mark urged the committee to carry out speedy investigations supported by technical expertise of professionals in the aviation industry.
He called on all Nigerians to assist the committee with useful information that would guide its recommendations.
“It is an opportunity for Nigerians to come and say what they know and be honest about it.
“We must have the courage to protect them if they say the truth but we should not base our investigations on rumour or hear say,’’ Mark stressed.
The Senate directed its committee on aviation to sit jointly with its counterpart in the House of Representatives to exhaustively investigate the immediate and remote causes of the crash.
It further directed the Senate Committee on Aviation to sit jointly with the operating airlines in the country.
It also directed the Ministry of Aviation to release the report on all previous air crashes in the country and make same available to the Senate.
The Senate observed a minute silence in honour of those who died in the crash and resolved to send condolence messages to the families of the deceased. (NAN)