Barely three months after a plane crash terminated the life of 163 passengers and members of the crew of Dana Airlines Nigeria, the Federal Government has lifted the suspension placed on the Airline, rasising question as to how the decision was come by.
The ban on the airlines’ operating licence has been lifted and it is free to fly again.
The lifting has raised question on the competence of the nation’s Airports Authority administration and its sensitivity to the nation’s mood, especially with so many lives lost due to the Airline’s own misdemeanor and incompetence.
The ill-fated crash at the Iju-Shaga area of Lagos killed all 153 passengers on board and 10 others, with a family of nine lost in the tragedy.
Disclosing the intention of the government on lifting the suspension to newsmen in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Joe Obi, the Aviation Minister Princes Stella Oduah said that the government was satisfied with the air-worthiness of the airline after a rigorous technical, operational and financial audit was conducted on the airline.
She said:”By this development, Dana Airline is free to resume its normal commercial flight operations. Government will however continue to strengthen its oversight and regulatory functions to ensure that all airlines operating in the country, including Dana adhere strictly to safety procedures as required by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Act and all other relevant local and international regulations that ensure and promote sustainable air safety”
The operating licence of Dana Airlines was temporarily suspended for safety precautions following the crash of one of its aircraft on June 3.
Last week, an aviation group– Civil Aviation Round Table– has asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to nullify the proceedings of the ongoing coroner’s inquest into the June 3 Dana air mishap.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that 153 passengers and some residents of Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State, where the plane crashed, lost their lives in the incident.
A Lagos Coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, had on June 18 began an inquest to unravel the cause of the crash and had summoned various witnesses to testify.
However, on Monday, Komolafe was forced to adjourn the inquest indefinitely, after he was served with the processes of the suit filed by the aviation group and its president, retired Capt. Dele Ore.
The suit, which was filed on behalf of the claimants by their counsel, Mr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN), is challenging the powers of the coroner to investigate deaths arising from aviation accidents.
Komolafe is the first defendant in the suit which will be heard on September 6 before Justice Okon Abang.
Other defendants in the suit are the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Ayotunde Philips; the Chief Coroner of the state, Justice Lateefat Okunnu; and the state Attorney-General, Mr. Ade Ipaye.
Also joined are the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
Other defendants include the Nigeria Airspace Management Authority (NAMA), and Dana Airlines Limited.
The claimants asked the court for an order setting aside the proceedings already concluded by the inquest till date, arguing that the coroner lacked the requisite authority to conduct the inquest.
They also want the court to nullify all the testimonies given by experts and witnesses at the inquest, claiming that it contravened Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act No. 6 of 2006.
In its response to the originating summons, the Lagos State Ministry of Justice– through its counsel– Mrs. Olawunmi Osibanjo, urged the court to dismiss the suit.