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Senate Fails to Quiz Oduah on N255m Car Scandal

First Bank Nigeria


The Senate on Tuesday rejected the explanation of the Minister of Aviation,  Ms. Stella Oduah, on the ill-fated crash involving a 23-year-old Propeller aeroplane belonging to the Associated Airlines on October 3.

The upper legislative house asked the minister to re-submit a detailed presentation on the incident.

Oduah, who appeared before the senate committee on aviation in company with heads of the various agencies under her ministry had limited her presentation to the information retrieved from the black box of the aircraft.

The proceeding was however a dissapointment to many Nigerians who had expected that with the minister’s appearance before the Senate on Tuesday, she would be quizzed on the two BMW bulletproof cars purchased for her by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority at a cost of N255m.

Oduah, who refused to talk to journalists after the exercise, had explained that the Accident Investigations Bureau began investigation on the data retrieved form the black box in the airport’s  laboratory.

She also showed a two-minute video clip of the  conversations between the two pilots,  adding that both engines of the aircrafts were faulty and should not have flown.

The minister said the speed of the plane was not enough for the engine to take off and that the pilot ignored the co-pilot’s warning against flying the plane.

She said, “As minister of aviation the fact that we got preliminary report in our laboratory without waiting for the final report, showed that we have put in place preventive measures.”

She then went ahead to make a power-point presentation which gave graphic and pictoral details of the  state of the various airports in Nigeria and how her administration had been able to carry out a comprehensive transformation of the sector.

But after listening for one and half hours, the Deputy Senate leader, Senator Abdul Ningi,  who represented Senate President David Mark,  said Oduah’s explanation fell short of addressing the circumstances that surrounded the crash.

Ningi said the  minister should come up, at another date, with details about the processes that led to the take-off of the aircraft on the fateful day, especially those whose responsibility it was, to have alerted relevant agencies on its condition.

He said, “What we expect you, honourable minister to come and tell us here is whether your investigation had revealed those who approved the aircraft for the flight operation,  the manufactured date of the aircraft and the age of the pilot, we learnt he was 64 years old.

“We also expect you to tell us when the aircraft was last serviced and who supervised the maintenance and certified it okay. Your explanation was just limited to the immediate cause of the crash, we want you to come back and give us those critical information.”

Oduah commended the Senate leadership for showing understanding and she pledged to return on another date with the information requested from her.

She had earlier said the aviation sector was in a deep rot when she took office in July 2011 and that the sector was a sad tale.

She noted that all the nation’s airports were characterised with obsolete, unserviceable and unavailable safety and security before she took over.

Attempts to speak with the minister after the event were futile as she simply walked past the newsmen who had waited for her to go out of the hearing room.

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