Aircraft flew below recommended height, witness tells court
An aviation expert, Dr. Yakubu Dazhia, has told a Lagos High Court, Igbosere that aircrafts are not supposed to fly over a congested area at a minimum of 1,000 feet.
The witness, who narrated this before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo during the ongoing trial of the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) and others involved in the collapse of SCOAN building in 2014, said further that no aircraft should fly 300 metres between the aircraft and the highest obstacle in a congested area.
Led by counsel for the Registered Trustees of SCOAN, Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness said that an aircraft flew “very close” to SCOAN building before it collapsed on September 12, 2014, killing 116 people.
He said the distance between the aircraft and the tallest building in that area should not be less than 1,000ft.
Dazhia told court that he is an aircraft engineer, aviation consultant and airline operator. He noted that the plane had been identified as a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Hercules C130 training aircraft.
His evidence was that, the plane was captured on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) flying well below the 1000 feet flight altitude recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The witness told the court that the ICAO recommended safe altitude for flight in a congested area such as Ikotun Egbe, where the collapsed SCOAN building was located, is 1,000ft.
Under cross-examination by Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins, who questioned Dazhia’s competence and the genuineness of his doctorate degree, Dazhia agreed that although he had an engineering degree, his Ph.D “has nothing to do with aircraft engineering.”
The witness said that he was not an aircraft traffic controller, a bomb expert or accident investigator. Neither did he lodge any complaint about the incident to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Organisation (NCAO).
He was asked: “You didn’t inform the Air Force about your concern?”
Dazhia said: “You wanted them to gun me down, to kill me?”
The witness also agreed that measuring a plane’s altitude required special equipment. “An individual can’t do that with the naked eyes. Ikotun is a flight path,” he said.
Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned further proceedings till March 14.