The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency has reopened the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in Rivers State following Saturday’s incident involving an Air Peace aircraft at the airport.
The General manager, Public Relations, NAMA, Mr Khalid Emele, confirmed the development to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Emele said Notice To Airmen has been issued to airlines concerning the reopening of the runway which was closed after an Air Peace Flight P47291 overshot the runway on Saturday.
Also, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu confirmed that the B737-500 aircraft had been towed from the site.
Yakubu said the aircraft was removed from the runway by FAAN in collaboration with the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
Our correspondent reports that the Air Peace aircraft with registration number 5N-BRN from Abuja carrying 94 passengers and six crew members on board had overshot the runway at the Port Harcourt Airport.
However, all the passengers and crew members were safely evacuated after the incident which is already being probed by the Accident Investigation Bureau.
Meanwhile, there was palpable sigh of relief, as Air Peace Flight P47291 with about 200 passengers and crew onboard from Abuja, last Saturday, skidded off the runway while landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
However, there was no casualty in the incident, which occurred at 3.42p.m.
Mrs Yakubu, who confirmed the incident, said it resulted from the heavy downpour at the airport.
Yakubu said although the Boeing 737-500 aircraft skidded off the runway, the pilot was able to stop the aircraft without causing any damage to the plane.
She noted that in spite of the rain, the undercarriage of the aircraft did not sink into the soil.
“All passengers disembarked successfully. There was no casualty,” the FAAN spokeswoman said.
The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, attributed the incident to the flooding of the runway.
“We confirm that Air Peace Flight P47291 Abuja-Port Harcourt had a runway excursion upon landing at the Port Harcourt International Airport on June 22, due to downpour.
“Our professional crew quickly recovered within seconds of the incident, and the aircraft was successfully normalised.
“Our esteemed passengers on board the flight were calm during the incident, and disembarked normally.
“Our team of experts and the authorities are currently reviewing the incident, and we will give our cooperation for a thorough exercise”, Olajide added.
The Tide reports that flight operations were brought to a halt Saturday afternoon following the near-crash incident, which threw the entire airport into serious panic.
Although there was a timely intervention and rescue operations by officers of FAAN, and other agencies at the airport, the trauma due to the incident left on the passengers made them to defy the heavy rainfall to leave the tarmac, which they ordinarily would not have done under normal circumstances.
The passengers, in the mixed feeling of joy and surprise, jumped into the rain, expressing gratitude to God for their miraculous safety.
The Tide observed that dignitaries like the former Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and his entourage, who wanted to fly back to Abuja, after witnessing the commissioning of the waste management plant by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, were stranded, as they could not use the airport because of obstruction of flight operations by the stranded plane.
The Tide also gathered from officials at the airport that due process would be followed in the investigation of the incident before the resumption of normal flight operations.
ISWAP Kills Four Nigerian Soldiers
Jihadists have killed four Nigerian soldiers and a member of a local self-defence group in an ambush in restive northern Borno State, security sources confirmed, yesterday.
A column of Nigerian troops was attacked, last Monday, by fighters aligned to the Islamic State group outside the town of Marte in the Lake Chad region, the sources told newsmen on condition of anonymity.
“We lost four soldiers and a vigilante,” said one.
The casualties were taken to a nearby base, a second source said.
Marte, which lies 130 kilometres (80 miles) from the regional capital Maiduguri, has been repeatedly targeted by the jihadists who attack military bases in the area.
The Nigerian Army said its forces had thwarted an ambush by jihadists close to Marte after an “initial setback”, but did not give any death toll.
“The ambush was reinforced with a crudely prepared Improvised Explosive Device planted by them against the troops”, Army spokesman, Col Aminu Iliyasu, said in the statement.
The military said troops forced the fighters to “flee in disarray”, abandoning equipment, including trucks, anti-aircraft guns, automatic rifles and ammunition.
Since July, last year, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group has intensified deadly attacks on military targets, raiding bases and ambushing troops.
ISWAP is a splinter faction of the Boko Haram jihadist group notorious for attacks on civilians.
The decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria has killed more than 35,000 people, displaced around two million and spilt over into neighbouring countries.
However, the Nigerian Army says it has recorded another success in the ongoing onslaught against Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.
A statement from the Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col Aminu Iliyasu, yesterday, disclosed that the feat was made by troops of 153 Task Force Battalion deployed at New Marte.
Iliyasu explained that the soldiers had embarked on fighting patrol to Dikwa to hunt and destroy remnants of Boko Haram criminals in the area in the early hours of Monday.
Incidentally, the troops were said to have encountered an ambush staged against them by the insurgents along the patrol route at Ala Village, some 7km away from New Marte.
According to the media coordinator, the ambush was reinforced with a crudely prepared Improvised Explosive Device planted against the troops.
He said rather than getting discouraged by the sudden attack on them, the troops turned around the initial setback and dealt a devastating blow on their attackers.
“Having so clearly asserted their superiority in the ensuing fire-fight, the criminal insurgents were forced to flee in disarray.
“The gallant troops then embarked on a relentless pursuit of the scampering insurgents who abandoned some of their fighting equipment in utter confusion,” Iliyasu.
Construction Works Begin On Three Flyover Bridges In PH
The Rivers State Government, yesterday, confirmed that construction works have commenced at the sites of the three flyover bridges flagged off by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike a few weeks ago.
In a statement, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, said that technicians and engineers of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the contractor for the flyover bridges, were seen at the three locations engaging in preliminary works, last Monday.
All through the previous week, the contractor had been on site at the Rebisi Flyover Bridge (former Garrison), Rumuogba Flyover Bridge (former Artillery) and Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge (former Rumuokoro), excavating and taking measurements.
Following Wike’s directive, Julius Berger and operatives of the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks are working round the clock to ensure better traffic management at the project locations.
Residents and motorists thanked the Rivers State governor for investing in pro-people projects, noting that the three flyover bridges will improve traffic flow in the state capital.
They commended Governor Nyesom Wike for taking proactive action to resolve the challenges posed by the massive project construction in parts of the state.
The residents and motorists pledged to cooperate and support the contractor to deliver all the projects on schedule.
It would be recalled that the governor has repeatedly pleaded with Rivers people to cooperate with Julius Berger as they deliver the three flyover bridges in the state capital.
PDP NWC Insists Rigging Of Kogi, Bayelsa Cannot Stand Says Killers of Woman Leader, Will Never Escape Justice
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says that the violent rigging of the Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections by the All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot stand.
In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, after an emergency meeting of the NWC, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The NWC maintains that there is no way the PDP will fold its hands and watch the mandates clearly given to its candidates, Engr. Musa Wada in Kogi State and Senator Douye Diri in Bayelsa State, left in the hands of repressive usurpers, manipulators and murderers.
“Indeed, the nation is still at shock over the brazen show of violence, where security forces coordinated the invasion of polling units, shooting and killing of voters and carting away of ballot boxes to government facilities where results were altered and fictitious figures given to INEC to declare the APC candidates as winners.
“Nigerians watched with horror as APC thugs and security forces traumatized and held voters hostage, murdered our compatriots, injured and maimed many more in violent attacks that involved the deployment of police helicopters.
“Our party has been made aware of the roles played by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as well as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in the elections.
“While we urge these officials to do some introspections on the anguish they have caused the people since the rigging of the elections, the PDP NWC assures that it will never hesitate to expose such ignoble roles at the appropriate time.
“The irreversible fact remains that though evil may appear to thrive for a while, truth and justice will always prevail at the end.
“The APC and its candidates must bear in mind that what they could not get through the ballot box, they cannot get by violence, manipulation and killing.
“The PDP is therefore undeterred in the determination to use all legitimate means available and allowed within our democratic practice to confront the usurpers and retrieved our mandate in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“The PDP will also file legitimate actions against identified INEC and security officials who aided the APC in the violent rigging of the election.
“The NWC therefore urges all members of the PDP as well as all Nigerians of good faith to remain strong, united and undeterred as the NWC commences lawful actions in the pursuit of our mandates.
“Our party once again mourns our compatriots killed by the APC in this election, including our Woman Leader, Acheju Abuh, who was burnt to death by APC thugs at her home on Monday.
“While invoking the wrath of God on the perpetrators of the gruesome killings, the party calls on the police to immediately track down and bring their killers to book.
“Indeed, their death will never be in vain as the mandates for which they were killed will surely be recovered”, Ologbondiyan added.
Similarly, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would challenge the result of November 16 governorship election in court.
Dickson disclosed this while addressing a world press conference in Yenagoa, yesterday.
He maintained that the PDP did not lose the election as it was characterised by violence and widespread malpractices which were carefully documented.
Dickson, however, said he would set up a transition committee to work out modalities for smooth handover on February 14, 2020.
“Our candidate, Senator Douye Diri and the party chairman have been speaking about the charade called an election that took place in Bayelsa on Saturday, and the invasion of our state by security forces.
“The dehumanisation of our people and how in the majority of areas and places, our people were denied the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
“The story is all out there that what took place in the state on November 16 was not a democratic election.
“So, today, I’m here to add my voice to all that has been said already. It was so brazen, it has never been like this in this state before,” he said.
Dickson added, “I know that in 2015, we went through a very tough time, there was a display of federal might, but at least, it was not as bad as this.”
He said the endorsement of Mr David Lyon, the governor-elect by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan was regrettable and a ploy by the APC to strategically take over the state.
He said that the perception that he alienated PDP stakeholders including the former president was unfounded, adding that the primary election that produced the PDP candidate was credible.
“Jonathan remains my Oga (boss) and I respect him, but there are lots of efforts by certain interest to create a rift between us, there is no politician that has been there for the former president than me.
“He has also helped me but it is unfortunate that I am being misconstrued in this matter of the election. I tried to meet Jonathan 16 times and he opted to support a candidate that does not wish me well.
“I will soon write my memoirs and people will have a fair view of what happened, the visit of some APC governors to Jonathan who congratulated the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party.
“It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday,” Dickson said.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has rejected the outcome of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The Minority Leadership, led by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, stated this while briefing newsmen, yesterday, at the National Assembly.
The minority leader called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the violence that marred the election in the two states, while disclosing that the party will approach the court.
“We are not impressed with what happened in the just concluded Bayelsa and Kogi elections. We are not in favour of the outcome of the election, us as PDP members and other minority parties and therefore we are 100 per cent not in support of the outcome of the election.
He continued, “We have also come here to register our grievance contrary to the Point of Order earlier raised by our colleague, Hon Abejide Adeleke (ADC, Kogi) commending the outcome of the election adjudging to be fair and credible. We want to state that, we are displeased with the violence actions meted out on innocent Nigerians which led loss of lives and properties”
Adeleke, who is a member of the Africa Democratic Congress from Kogi State, had earlier during plenary, yesterday, used the word “We” when thanking for the election, and the minority leader, rejected the statement, disclosing that the PDP caucus was not in support of the statement.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu said, “We are particularly sad with the loss of lives whereby the PDP woman leader was burnt alive and the killing of Senator Dino Melaye’s nephew was quite disheartening. We condemn the violence perpetrated in that election. I want to state clearly that we would contest the elections in court. I also feel this is the time to amend the Electoral act, we need to correct the imperfections.”
Later, Adeleke also addressed newsmen concerning the controversy.
He stated: “At plenary, the speaker asked me to brief the house about Kogi election, which I did by raising a point of order whereby I thanked my colleagues for their prayers and success of the election that this time around, the election was not inconclusive.
“ However, on the issue of whether lives were lost, I told them that the election was peaceful in my own area. So, I didn’t do anything wrong as my colleagues in the PDP are already agitating.”
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the North, Aminu Yakudima, says the party should sanction, suspend those who worked against its interest in Bayelsa State.
Recall that the flag-bearer of the opposition, David Lyon emerged winner in the election with 352,552 votes to defeat Douye Diri, candidate of the ruling PDP, who polled 143,172 votes.
Lyon’s victory means that the APC has broken the 20-year reign of the PDP in the state.
According to Yakudima, “Some people worked against the interest of the PDP; therefore, the national leadership should investigate and discipline them to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Those found guilty should be suspended or sanctioned in line with the provisions of the PDP constitution. By and large, there was this issue of persistent thuggery but also, there was a problem within the PDP.”
The ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is one of those who may be suspended for the PDP’s failure in the state because some of the party’s leaders believe that his indifference gave the APC an easy ride to power.
It would be recalled that Ogbia Local Government, where Jonathan hails from, with over 40,000 votes, heightened suspicion on the role of the former president in the PDP’s defeat.
The former president’s hosting of two APC governors in Otuoke; the visit by Lyon and other APC leaders in the state; his non-support for the PDP candidate during the primary election; his non-attendance of the PDP grand rally; his visit to Buhari at the Presidential Villa, and the prayers made by his mother in support of Lyon have fuelled the speculations.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party’s National Working Committee will investigate why the party lost in Bayelsa and Kogi.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) will meet soon to conduct a post-mortem on the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states,” he said.
A former member of the PDP board of trustees (BoT), Sam Nkire, blamed the party’s loss on Seriake Dickson, governor of the state.
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