The federal government has banned Boeing 737 Max airplanes from flying into Nigeria’s airspace until further notice.
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This is a direct reaction to the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crash on March 10 morning enroute from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board. Subsequently, the European Union, UK, China and India banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying over their airspace due to concerns over passenger safety. Also Ethiopia, Singapore, China, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia have all temporarily suspended the 737 Max.
The aviation minister yesterday reiterated that no operator in Nigeria was using that type of airplane. He said: “Regarding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 that have been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane.
“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.”
He remarked that “regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane, Boeing 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal – whatever affects one affects the other, because aircraft will be flying in and out.
“So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out.”
Speaking on the orders placed by Air Peace and Arik for the supply of that brand of airplanes, the minister noted that they would not be delivered in the country until the next two years “and this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane.
“The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping. And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market to see if there is something they are doing wrong. And if it is confirmed that a particular problem, say for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fixed. So, this case is not different,” he said.
Sirika gave assurance that authorities would be alive to their responsibility, which is to secure life and property.
Collapsed Building: 25 bodies rescued, Ambode visit site
Dozens of children are believed trapped inside a collapsed building in Lagos, Nigeria, where massive rescue attempt are ongoing.
The building is on the Ita-faji area of Lagos island, the oldest part of the city.
It is unclear how many people are inside the ruins of the three-story building that collapsed about 10 a.m. local time Wednesday.
It is reported that a school with about 100 students was located on the building’s top floor.
Several children are believed to have been rescued from the debris. Ambulances, fire trucks, and heavy building equipment were standing by to help with the search-and-rescue effort.
Meanwhile, the governor of Lagos State, Akinwumnu Ambode has has visited the scene where he got briefing from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency boss that 25 bodies have been rescued so far.
He said, “I’ve been briefed that the building is a residential building accommodating an illegal school on the second floor.
“The rescue team are fully in charge and they will continue with the rescue operation. But I appeal to people to give the rescue workers a chance to save more lives.”
He, however, said the state government will carry out an integrity test on buildings around the area and demolish and any that fails the test.
“This area and building here will be undergoing an integrity test. As you can see some of the buildings have been marked for demolition
“We have been receiving pleas from house owners from the area. Notwithstanding, we will go ahead with the integrity test and any building that fails the integrity test will be demolished.
“But the most important thing now is to save more lives before we talk about dealing with the culprit.
“The deputy governor is at the hospital to take care of those who have been rescued and are at the hospital. The hospital bills will be taken care of by the state government,” Ambode said
Building collapses are not uncommon in Nigeria. In 2016, more than 100 people died when a church collapsed in southeastern Nigeria. A five-story building in Lagos collapsed that year as well, killing at least 30 people.
Celebration turns bloody in Taraba state
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has extended the dusk to dawn curfew he imposed on Jalingo to 24 hours as a celebration to mark his reelection turns bloody.
Ishaku had imposed a dusk to dawn curfew on Jalingo on Monday to avert a breakdown of law and order in the town as there were credible intelligence reports that there were plans in certain quarters to sponsor violence.
However, the peace in the town was shattered Tuesday morning as youths and women groups who trooped out in their thousands to celebrate Ishaku’s victory at the polls were attacked by some armed youths who inflicted injuries on them.
The incident led to serious pandemonium across the town as people ran helter-skelter to avoid being caught in a crossfire thereby necessitating the extension of the curfew.
In a statement released on Tuesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Bala Dan Abu, the governor said the curfew would remain in force till further notice.
The statement directed all security agencies in the state to ensure strict compliance and enforcement of the curfew.
Meanwhile, a community leader in the town, Alhaji Bello Yero, has urged youths in the town to eschew violence and refrain from being used to breach the security of the state.
Speaking to Journalists against the backdrop of violence that led to the imposition of the curfew, Alhaji Yero also warned opposition politicians in the state to join hands with Ishaku to bring peace and development to the state.
Police intensify search for Rep member killers
One person (name withheld) has been arrested in connection with the murder of Oyo House of Reps member Temitope Olatoye aka Sugar. Olatoye was shot dead in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State on Saturday during the Governorship/Assembly polls.
The Commissioner of Police Mr. Shina Olukolu on Tuesday said a team of police investigators led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) has succeeded in arresting one person (names withheld) in connection with the killing of a federal lawmaker.
He said with the arrest, all those involved in the gruesome murder will be picked up.
Olukolu, who spoke through the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Olugbenga Fadeyi a Superintendent of Police, disclosed the suspect has made a confessional statement linking him to the killing of the lawmaker.
According to the state police boss, the police are closer to arresting all those involved in Saturday’s killing of Hon. Olatoye.
Confirming the arrest of the suspect, Olukolu said others were being sought for, expressing assurance that there would be other developments.
“We have arrested one person in connection with the killing of the lawmaker and he is helping the police with useful information that will eventually lead to the arrest of all those that have hands in the dastardly act. I can tell you that we are getting closer to the killers,” he said.
The police said aside from the suspect linked with Olatoye’s case, about 18 persons, six guns, nine live cartridges, ax, knives, and other miscellaneous items were recovered.
While stating Olatoye’s death was in no way connected with the elections, the Police Commissioner said that there were enough facts and pieces of evidence available that will lead to the arrest of the other culprits.
Army arrests 24 over ballot snatching
The Nigerian Army said it arrested no fewer than 24 suspects in connection with electoral offenses during the Saturday Governorship and House Assembly elections in Imo, Abia and Cross River.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sagir Musa, the army spokesperson said 15 suspects were arrested in Abia.
Mr. Musa said of the 15 suspects, five were political thugs, arrested at Lokpanta while on their way to disrupt election at Lekwesi community.
The army spokesperson said camouflage trousers, daggers and assorted charms were recovered from them.
He said the other six suspects were arrested at Osisioma junction while they were conveying already thumb printed ballot papers in a vehicle.
Mr Musa said troops also rescued an INEC staff abducted by hoodlums at Ohafia Technical College in Anna village.
He said that four suspects were arrested in connection with the case while efforts were on to apprehend other fleeing members of the gang.
Mr Musa said that the four suspects had been handed over to the police for further action.
In Imo, the army spokesman said four suspected fake soldiers in military uniform (woodland camouflage were nabbed around Everyday Super Market in Owerri.
He said the suspects were “escorting a prominent female politician in a political party vehicle’’ at the time of arrest.
Mr. Musa said troops also intercepted and arrested suspected ballot box snatchers at Airforce junction near Ngor Okpala Local Government Area of Imo during the election.
He said that on sighting the troops, the suspects abandoned their vehicle and ran into the bush.
“Items recovered include one Sienna bus, one pump action gun with 11 live cartridge, voter cards and assorted ATMs bearing different names.’’
Mr. Musa said in Cross River, troops on patrol around power plant substation, Odukpani Local Government Area, rescued one Authur Nkama, kidnapped at Ikot Ansa in Calabar Municipal Area Council.