The Federal Government has ordered the removal of the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Harold Demuren.
A terse statement issued on Monday night by the Special Assistant to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (Media), Mr. Sam Nwaobasi, referenced PPR/OSGF/PR/02, said the decision was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan after “a careful consideration” of Demuren’s “unsatisfactory response to the numerous concerns of stakeholders in the aviation sector.”
The government was, however, silent on his successor.
The statement entitled, ‘Removal of Dr. Harold Olusegun Demuren from office as Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority,’ read: “His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has approved the removal of Dr. Harold Olusegun Demuren from office as the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority with effect from March 12, 2013.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives had called for the sacking of the NCAA DG following last year’s crash of a Dana Air plane in Ishaga area of Lagos that claimed 163 lives.
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, blamed the June 3, 2012 crash on negligence by the regulatory authorities and recommended the dismissal and prosecution of Demuren.
The Joint Committee on Aviation of both chambers of the National Assembly had investigated the crash.
The recommendation that Demuren should be sacked followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the committee.
Briefing the House on the findings, the Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Mrs. Nkiruka Onyejeocha, had said several faults were reported on the ill-fated aircraft before the crash, but alleged that NCAA continued to clear it for flight operations.
She had said, “The aircraft had five air returns before the crash; only one was due to bird strike. The others were caused by faults in the aircraft.
“The NCAA should have grounded the aircraft, but the agency did not care about the lives of Nigerians. Each time a fault was detected, the NCAA continued to clear the aircraft for flying.”
The report noted that there was no certified engineer for the MD83 aircraft in Nigeria, yet NCAA approved it for flight operations in the country.
For this alleged regulatory failure, the committee also recommended the dismissal and prosecution of the NCAA inspector, Mr. Suleiman Akwuh, who inspected and cleared the plane for flying.
The report read in part, “The DG (Demuren), who approved and deployed the officer, should also be dismissed from service and prosecuted for criminal negligence.
“The NCAA, under the current DG, Dr. Harold Demuren, brought in the MD83 to operate in Nigeria even when there is no licensed engineer rated on the aircraft.
“For the period under review, Dana operated 14 air returns caused by system failure, which is a sufficient indication of imminent danger.
“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 restoring its licence. This constitutes negligence.
“The tenure of the current DG of the NCAA had expired three months before the Dana crash occurred on June 3, 2012.”
The House directed that NCAA should be allowed to function as an autonomous agency without interference from the Ministry of Aviation.
“The staff strength of the NCAA should be totally overhauled with a view to injecting technically and professionally qualified personnel to enhance its regulatory role in accordance with international best practices,” the report added.
In January this year, the Senate also recommended the sacking of Demuren for negligence over the Dana Air crash.
It also approved a recommendation for the revocation of the Air Operating Certificate of Dana Airlines, saying, “It was not issued in full compliance with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations 2009.”