Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has ordered the suspension of a private airline, Executive Jet Services, from operating in the country with immediate effect.
The airline had conveyed musician Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, to Abuja for a musical concert in defiance of the restrictions on inter-state movement over COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister announced the suspension of the local airline during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday.
“The return flight that conveyed the musician to and from Abuja was originally approved by the Ministry of Aviation to convey Justice Adefope Okojie.
“An approval that was fraudulently used by the airline charter company,” Sirika said.
He said the conduct of the Executive Jet Services was a gross violation of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 regulations and protocols which allowed only flights on essential services.
“As much as government would encourage the operation and growth of all operators in the aviation industry, it would not condone actions that undermine government policies and constitute risks to public interests,” he said.
According to Sirika, operations of the flight company have been suspended indefinitely.
“It will also be fined, while the flight captain will be sanctioned for providing false information.
Naira Marley had on June 13 held a ‘drive-in-concert’ event at the Jabi Lake Mall.
Sirike said that though, approval was given for the flight to fly from Lagos to Abuja and Abuja to Lagos, it was for the purpose of conveying Justice Okojie.
He added that the approval was meant to take effect on June 14, but the flight decided to take off from Lagos on June 13, adding that the approval was not meant to convey the musician, but the Judge.
“We approved the flight, but not for any musician. What was approved was for the Hon Justice, because judiciary is part of essential service and the approval was given for June 14.
“But, the approval for the operation was from Lagos to Abuja and Abuja to Lagos, the approval was very clear, the operation was based on protocols guiding COVID-19 issued by NCAA,” he said.
The minister said such operation was a clear violation of the approval, adding that the Federal Government would no longer take kindly to such gross violations.
He said it appeared that some Nigerians and flight operators were daring its resolve, adding that the Federal Government would also not be tired of protecting Nigerians.
Sirike said that the NCAA would, henceforth, put mechanisms in place to stop such gross violations of its rule.
The minister said that there would be strict adherence to its rule in granting any further approval.
Naira Marley flew from Lagos to Abuja with Ex-BBNaija star, Kimoprah, despite the ban on interstate movement and flights.
Also, the FCT Ministerial Task Team on COVID-19 had on June 14 sealed up Jabi Lake Mall in Jabi District indefinitely for violating the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID- 19 directives that ban on public gatherings is still in force.