PPR/OSGF/PR/02 11th March, 2013
Removal Of Dr. Harold Olusegun Demuren From Offce As Director-General Of The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)
His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, 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 (NCAA) with effect from 12th March 2013
2.This is consequent to a careful consideration of Dr. Demuren’s unsatisfactory response to the numerous concerns of stakeholders in the Aviation Sector.
3.Mr. President wishes him well in his future endeavours.
Special Assistant (Media)
For: Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Background to the whole episode..
The House of Representatives had in December blamed the June 3, 2012 Dana Air crash in Lagos on negligence by the regulatory authorities and recommended the dismissal and prosecution of Demuren.
The crash claimed the lives of all the 153 passengers on board the aircraft and 10 others on the ground.
The Senate/House of Representatives Joint Committee on Aviation had investigated the crash.
The decision 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 regulatory failure, the committee also recommended the dismissal and prosecution of the NCAA inspector, Mr. Suleiman Akwuh, who inspected and cleared the plane.
Part of the report endorsed by the House had read, “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 restore 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 addition, the House demanded the authorities to revisit the investigation report of Bellview Airlines and other accident investigation reports.
In January this year, Senate had also recommended the sacking of Demuren, for negligence over the June 3, 2012 Dana Air crash in Lagos.
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.”
The resolutions stemmed from the consideration of the report of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation on the Dana Air crash, which was tabled before the Senate on November 29, 2012.
The Senate also indicted the operators of (the defunct) Air Nigeria for diverting N35.5bn it secured through UBA, from the Federal Government’s N200bn Aviation Intervention Fund.
It, therefore, approved the recommendation that, “The Central Bank of Nigeria should recover the N35.5bn Aviation Intervention fund, which was extended to Air Nigeria, guaranteed and disbursed by UBA but was diverted to other uses.”
The sacking of Demuren was adopted in the resolution, which read, “NCAA Inspector, Engineer Suleiman Akwuh, who did pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana Aircraft without prerequisite professional qualification should have his appointment terminated.
“The director-general who approved and deployed the officer should have his appointment terminated for professional negligence of duty.”
The report observed that NCAA, under the leadership of Demuren, brought in MD83 to operate in Nigeria, even when there was no licensed engineer rated on the aircraft type.
“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 current Director-General, NCAA is not licensed or type-rated as an aircraft maintenance engineer or a pilot, rather he is an aeronautic engineer.
The tenure of the current Director General of NCAA expired three months before Dana crash occurred on June 3, 2012. So the current Director General of NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren should be removed from office for negligence and incompetence,” the report added.
However, the President of the Senate, David Mark, was cautious over the qualifications of Demuren, saying that he did not need to be a type-rated engineer to head the NCAA.
He said, “I think that the issue of his qualification is not an issue, but if you are talking about whether he performed or not, that is a different thing altogether.”
Following arguments on the recommendation, the Senate resolved to stand down the item and directed the committee to seek further information on the matter before resubmitting it for Senate’s final decision.
The Senate also resolved that FAAN, and indeed, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, should be properly equipped with well trained staff and equipment for the purposes of responding promptly and adequately to air accident in the country.
Further on the NCAA, the Senate resolved that “The staff strength of the NCAA should be totally overhauled with a view to inject technically and professional qualified personnel to enhance its regulatory role in accordance with the international best practices.