The airliner — ExecuJet — that ferried the controversial Nigerian singer, Naira Marley, to Abuja where he held a packed concert in breach of the covid-19 rules has been suspended from operating in the Nigerian airspace indefinitely.
Recall that Marley had on Saturday performed at a concert in Abuja amid COVID-19 pandemic and ban on open social and religious gatherings.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, who announced the suspension, said the company will also be fined, while the flight captain will also be sanctioned for providing false information.
Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation According to him, 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.
“The flight was supposed to convey a judge, Hon Justice Adefope Okoji, to Abuja and back to Lagos.
“Going forward, the ministry will escalate the mechanisms they have in place and will be stricter in approvals and enforcement.
“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,” Sirika 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.
On the captain, he 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 do not take things lightly in civil aviation because it means the lives of people. We are highly regulated.”