The last may not have been heard about the crisis between the management of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), which is alleged to have been sponsored by the Director of Engineering in the agency, Emmanuel Diala.

A source close to the bureau confided in our correspondent on Monday that the contract agreement between Mr. Diala and AIB has since elapsed, although the director still reports at work.

The source told SaharaReporters that Mr. Diala’s contract expired along with that of another director, Capt. Yusuf Lawal, on the 20th of September, and that they were both communicated with even before the due date.

While Mr. Lawal received his letter and complied with the directive to submit all official documents in his care, Mr. Diala has, despite receiving his own letter, continued to appear at work as a staff of the agency, reusing to submit the official documents in his care.

Mr. Diala joined AIB in 2007 as a contract staff, and Mr. Lawal in 2011 in the same capacity.

The source noted that Mr. Diala’s salary has, however, been stopped, and that he has been notified that he will not be re-engaged by the management unless it receives a superior order.

According to the source, who affirmed that Mr. Diala is no longer on the staff and that he is over 70 years old, the director went to Abuja upon receiving his letter to lobby, but was unsuccessful. 

“Later, he returned to our Lagos office and continued to resume and close from there even when he knew that he was no longer with us. He’s the sponsor of NAAPE and he’s doing all this, hoping that he would be appointed a Commissioner in AIB.”

It would be recalled that NAAPE and AIB had been at loggerheads in the past two months, with each party accusing the other of violating civil service rules.

NAAPE had condemned the secondment of Benjamin Okewu, the President of Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), to AIB from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, claiming that it violated the rules, while AIB insisted that Mr. Okewu had been properly engaged by the management.

The situation degenerated recently when it was discovered that Mr. Diala was the brains behind the attacks of AIB by NAAPE. 

Recently, a rival union in the industry supplied SaharaReporters with the report of a federal government commission during Mr. Diala’s days at the former national carrier, Nigeria Airways, which found him guilty of diverting about N150 million between 1996 and 1997 from the coffers of the airline, and dismissed him for corrupt practices.

NAAPE, in another document dated July 2003, said that Mr. Diala’s dismissal was reversed and turned into retirement after being found not wanting in the discharge of his duties. SaharaReporters has not been able to authenticate this claim.

Meanwhile, a statement from the spokesman of AIB, Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, condemned various recent petitions against the management of the bureau, saying they were only aimed at bringing down AIB.

“The management of AIB had initially decided to ignore NAAPE’s attacks and focus on its primary assignment, but counsel from concerned members of the public and the staff that falsehood may appear to be the truth if unchallenged, forced this response. The public is being misinformed.”

He accused NAAPE of a penchant for writing petitions, saying that before the authorities are able to sit down to address its concerns, it would take the same matter to the media. 

“This mischief is a reflection of the kind of respect and confidence they have in constituted authorities and their diabolical ways of arm twisting them,” Mr. Oketunbi said.  “By this, NAAPE has portrayed the Ministers of Transportation, the Minister of State for Aviation and the Minister of Labour as incompetent before their boss, the same way they are trying to make AIB Commissioner look incompetent.”

Former Nigeria Airways Asst. Manager Emmanuel Diala

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