Contrary to speculations on the social media that Nigerian airspace has been shut with foreign airlines allegedly turned back, the managers of the nation’s aviation agencies have said the country’s airspace remains open despite the escalated crises in states like Lagos.
There were unsubstantiated reports that the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) shut the airspace and foreign airlines were forced to land in neigbouring Africa countries like Lome and Cotonou as a result. But reliable sources in two of the agency refuted the reports, saying any airline that chose to divert its flight to any other country did so on its own volition. The sources said that despite the curfew imposed by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, after amateur videos emerged showing soldiers shooting at unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate, the country’s skies have remained open to international flights.
The Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) sent by NAMA for October 20, 2020 and signed by Alli Dele, which was seen by Daily Sun, stated that despite the curfew imposed in Lagos due to demonstrations, adequate contingency arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of aircraft landing, taking off and overflying the Nigerian airspace. The NOTAM stated that however, movement within Lagos is limited to essential services.
When contacted, the General Manager, Public Relations of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Sam Adurogboye, refuted the speculations, clarifying that some airlines on their own took the decision to suspend their flights in view of the curfew and the situation on ground. Daily Sun had earlier reported that on Tuesday, October 20, that over five airlines cancelled flights into Lagos. Arik Air, Ibom Air, Azman Air, Africa World Airlines and Air Peace were among the airlines that cancelled some of the flights coming in and out of Lagos on Tuesday, October 20 and Wednesday, October 21.