Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has announced the suspension of flight company ExecuJet, whose aircraft conveyed controversial Nigerian singer Naira Marley on Saturday to perform at a concert in Abuja despite a ban on interstate travel and for violating social distancing rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, for supplying false information to obtain approval.
The company will also be fined.
The Flight Captain will also be sanctioned for providing false information.
Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, who announced the suspension on Monday, said the airline used approval granted for a legal flight operation to convey Naira Marley to Abuja for an illegal concert.
Sirika said at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday that the flight which Naira Marley used to Abuja for his concert was approved for the use of transporting a judge.
He said the flight was supposed to convey a judge, Hon Justice Adefope Okoji, to Abuja and back to Lagos.
‘We considered judiciary as an essential service to be delivered. The approval was for June 14, 2020, however, we gave a leeway of 24 hours because due to operational reasons they may choose to fly earlier or later,’ the minister said.
‘The operator chose to fly on the 13th. The operator is ExecuJet Services.’
Sirika also read the letter which contained approval for the flight and emphasised on the parts which read: ‘ensure that this operation is strictly and diligently based on the protocol guiding the operation under COVID-19.”
‘The operation is a clear violation of our approval to which we take very seriously. Execujet Services is hereby suspended indefinitely. We will also fine them maximumly according to the law,’ the minister said.
‘The captain of the flight would also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower and also appropriately in accordance with our law.
‘We don’t take things lightly in civil aviation because it means the lives of people. We are highly regulated.’
The minister said aviation authorities would escalate the mechanisms already put in place for flight approvals to deter people from contravening laid down rules.
‘Going forward, we will escalate the mechanisms we have in place, and we will be stricter in our approvals and enforcement,’ he stated.