We need Nigerian Navy buy-in, others in accident investigation – Olateru

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*L-R: The General manager, public affairs, Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N), Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, commissioner and chief executive officer of AIB-N, Mr. Akin Olateru and chairman, League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LACC), Mr. Olusegun Koiki at the Gateway Forum.

The commissioner for Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N) Mr. Akin Olateru has underscored the importance of a partnership with the Nigerian Navy and the other agencies of government in order to do a thorough job wherever aircraft accident occurs.

Speaking as a guest at gateway forum organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos yesterday, Olateru said AIB-N had since 2017 sought to sign MoU with the navy but to no avail.

He said the agency has neither divers nor diving apparatus like frogmen suits to go into the deep to retrieve wreckage of aircraft or black boxes for its personnel are not trained for that.

He also said the AIB-N does not have aircraft and so when an aircraft crashes in a difficult terrain, it would need the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).

“Since 2017, I have been pursuing the Nigeria Navy to sign MoU. It is not the day we have an accident that we start looking for whom to call.

“It is very serious and some agencies of government do not understand why we need all collaboration; they don’t understand why we are pushing for this cooperation.

For instance, if an aircraft crashes into the sea, AIB…doesn’t have the capacity for sea divers to retrieve any wreckage or black box’ but the Nigerian Navy does,” he said.

Recently, we signed with the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) and one of the benefits of that is aircraft which drops from the sky in a bad or difficult terrain that we cannot access, the air force can help us with the logistics.

“We do not have any aircraft; so when an aircraft crashes in a difficult terrain, we would need the NAF.

“We too can be of help to the Air Force because we have a world class safety lab in Abuja. So rather than the Air Force sending their ‘black box’ overseas, they can use our lab and save Nigeria some cost. At the end of the day, it is to the benefit of the entire nation,” he said.

He said the agency needs strategic collaboration and alliances with various stakeholders in construction, maritime, air transport, the fire departments and other organisations to increase its efficiency, especially when air accident occurs in a difficult terrain.

However, he said the agency had had cooperation with several agencies including the Federal Road safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).

“You see the way LASEMA handled the last accident and that is why we are making effort to sign an MoU with LASEMA and see how we can train their staff on how we work and what we expect from them when there is an accident.”

“We have done a lot of training with the Nigeria Police Force and have trained them as first responders on what to do at the crash site; we’ve trained civil defence too. The Nigeria Police we are still waiting for the MoU to be signed; we will get there. We just have to keep pushing; it is important for all the agencies to come together and work as a team.

He applauded the police, fire service and other law enforcement agencies for controlling crowd and securing the crash site of a recent helicopter accident.

“And that is why we have conducted several training sessions involving members of security agencies such as the NPF, the Civil Defense Corps, and FRSC on the importance of securing crash sites so as to ensure that evidence are not tampered with,” said Olateru.

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