By Sade Williams
Air Peace has dismissed the defence by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the opening of the rear cargo hold of its Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 7.35pm on last Thursday, describing the Authority’s investigation into the issue as shoddy.
The NCAA had said the account by the airline on the opening of its aircraft cargo hold at Lagos airport was unfounded, saying investigations carried out from all sides proved that it was untrue.
But a statement signed by Chris Iwarah, Air Peace spokesman said: While we remain unwilling to be drawn into unnecessary controversy with agencies that ought to have been jolted into action from their slumber by patriotic information as we did on the incident, we are compelled to say the purported report by NCAA is both a lazy and shoddy job at cover-up.
“The conclusion by NCAA suggesting that our information on the incident was a false alarm absolutely lacks a basis. From the report, it is clear that the only reason for NCAA’s dismissal of the very serious security breach was the claim that when an aircraft of another airline beamed its lights after our pilot alerted the control tower to the incident, the suspected thieves were not seen. We need to reiterate that our pilot’s call to control tower was made after the rear cargo hold of our aircraft was opened and shut after fifteen seconds. We, therefore, begin to wonder whether NCAA expected the suspected thieves to be there waiting after opening and shutting the cargo hold within a space of fifteen seconds.
“Even before we confirmed the incident, our guests on board the aircraft had made their independent accounts of the occurrence public. We would have thought NCAA would make some effort to reach guests on board the aircraft to share their experience. But it decided, once more, to go its usual path – deny, dismiss and protect themselves from the truth.
According to him, ‘the light indicating that the cargo hold was opened did not only come up in the cockpit, both guests on board the aircraft and our crew were also attracted by the sound of the cargo hold when it was opened. We will like to advise the NCAA and its collaborators to treat complaints of security breach at our airports with the seriousness they deserve rather than this culture of baseless denial and attempt at cover-up. As members of the public may recall, similar incidents reported recently were also dismissed without a basis.
“On our part, we will continue to take all necessary measures to prioritise and guarantee the safety of our guests, crew and equipment”, he added.