The human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has clarified that the Nigerian Air Force has no wherewithal to commence an inquest into the plane crash that killed seven of its personnel around the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja on Sunday.
According to Falana, only the Accident Investigation Bureau had the right to do so.
The lawyer made this assertion during a media interview in Lagos on Tuesday, February 23.
Consequently, Falana criticised the mandate by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, that a panel of officers should probe the crash.
Falana said, “It is so worrisome that impunity has become the order for top officials of the Buhari administration. The order of the Chief of Air Staff designate to the effect that a panel of air force officers should investigate the air crash which occurred on Sunday is illegal.
“That was possible under the defunct military dictatorship in Nigeria. But under the current political dispensation, all air accidents shall be investigated by the Accident Investigation Bureau.
“The AIB is under the Federal Ministry of Aviation and is charged with the responsibility to investigate any civil aircraft accident and serious incident arising out of, or in the course of air navigation and occurring either in or over Nigeria, or occurring to Nigerian aircraft elsewhere.”
The senior advocate argued that the AIB was established by virtue of Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 as an autonomous agency that reports to the President through the Minister of Aviation.
Ripples Nigeria recalls that the AIB in a statement on Monday had said it has no plans to investigate the crash in question, because it was a military accident.
The statement said in part, “there was an accident involving a military aircraft. By the power establishing AIB-N, we do not I vesrigate military incidents or accidents except where invited”.
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