Barely few hours after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) dismissed the allegation of Air Peace on attempted theft on one of its aircraft on the runway 18 Right of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, the airline said it stands by its claim. The spokesman for Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah in an email response to an earlier inquiry said the dismissal of the claim by NCAA, described the regulatory body’s report as a lazy and shoddy job at cover-up.

Iwarah insisted that the incident on the attempted opening of the rear cargo hold of Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of Lagos Airport at about 7.35pm on Thursday, February 8, 2018 was real.

“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 a 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,” he said.

He added that before the airline confirmed the incident, its passengers on board the aircraft had made their independent accounts of the occurrence public.

He said NCAA should have made some efforts to reach some of its passengers on board the aircraft to share their experience, but it decided to as usual deny, dismiss and protect its sister agency.

He explained that the light indicating that the cargo hold was opened did not only come up in the cockpit, both passengers on board the aircraft and its 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 the 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 prioritize and guarantee the safety of our passengers, crew, and equipment,” he said.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had described as baseless the allegation of burglary attempt on the cargo hold of one of the aircraft of Air Peace on the runway 18Right of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos as claimed by the airline.

NCAA in a statement by its General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Sam Adurogboye earlier today had said that it reviewed all the reports from the relevant agencies concerning the incident and it was unproven, insisting that the airline lied about the theft attempt claim.

Adurogboye said that in line with Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs), Aviation Security personnel were at the holding point of runway 18R monitoring the departure/take off of both Air Peace and Arik Air aircraft.

Sahara Reporters