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Military, AIB may not release plane crash report to public

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Findings of the ongoing accident investigation into the recent military plane crash in Kaduna may not get released to the public.

The Guardian learnt that such disclosures could have implications for national security, especially for a country battling insurgency.

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It was also learnt that findings of military aircraft accidents are classified and are never made public until after 10 years when they are declassified.

Following the ill-fated plane crash, the third in three months, stakeholders have called for thorough and independent investigation of all recent crashes in military operations, public disclosure of findings and recommendations, to clear public doubts and forestall recurrence.

Aviation Security consultant and former commandant of the Lagos Airport, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), dismissed the idea of public disclosure.

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He said no country gives assessments of its operations for public evaluation, and outside of the state security council and the national legislative security committee.

Ojikutu said though the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has called the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to help conducted investigation, “the report, which is based on established Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) can be given to NAF, national security council and the national legislative security committee alone.”

“The military has more than 100 flight sorties daily in this country; more than the daily flights of some domestic airlines. What has happened is not necessarily a concern for the public view but legislative and defence ministry, except we want to share our strength and weaknesses with our enemies or our neighbouring countries, whom we do not know on whose side they are in our fight with the foreign insurgents in our country now. The military has its standard operational procedures just as civil aviation has operational regulations. Don't let us dabble into it,” Ojikutu said.

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Air Vice Marshal, Adebiyi Okanlawon (rtd), however, said given the central role of the armed forces in combating insurgencies, it was important to disabuse public minds that are linking crashes to operational carelessness.

"I think we should conduct appropriate investigations into all these and make some of them (findings) public to rest the minds of Nigerians and show that they are not due to carelessness.

"The public will also be able to understand when we make a case for funding in aviation. Because the industry needs a Marshal Plan now. We are down and just managing. We need to get back to basics.

"We should begin to do thorough assessments of both military and civil aviation to end this bad trend. This is a national issue that goes beyond the military," Okanlawon said.

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