UPDATED: FG sanctions airline, pilot for flying Naira Marley
The Federal Government has suspended Executive Jets Services for flying popular musician Azeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley contrary to the approval it was granted.
Naira Marley was flown from Lagos to Abuja by the airline despite COVID-19 restrictions after approval of aviation authorities.
But the Federal Government explained the flight was meant to fly in Hon. Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos and not the musician.
The musician featured and entertained fun-seekers at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja over the weekend.
The musician flew from Lagos to Abuja despite the ban on interstate movements and flights.
Speaking on Monday at the daily briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika announced suspension of the operation of Executive Jets Service indefinitely for the infraction.
The minister also said the captain who operated the flight would be sanctioned for misleading the control tower.
Sirika said: “Well, we approved a flight but certainly not for any musician. The flight, from the application, was to convey Honourable Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos for an official assignment.
“In this challenging time, in our wisdom, we considered the judiciary to be part of the essential service to be delivered. Having to move the Hon. Justice from Lagos to Abuja was in order. The approval was given for the 14th of June, 2020, however, we do give them a leeway of 24 hours sometimes due to operational reasons.
“They can operate the flight slightly earlier or slightly forward within 24 hours. In this case, the operator choose to fly on the 13th at about 6:00 pm. So, that itself is not a violation to operate earlier because we gave him the leeway.”
He added: “The operator is Executive Jets Services and the approval was very clear and I will read part of it. This is the letter from the ministry of Aviation to the Chairman of the Executive Jets Services and it was signed by the Director of Air Transport Management on my behalf.”
On the suspension of the jet services, Sirika said: “The operation is a clear violation of our approval to which we take very seriously and it seems this is becoming a norm. Perhaps, this is the second time. So, Executive Air Services operations are hereby suspended indefinitely. We will also fine them maximally according to the law.
“The captain of the flight will also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower and also appropriately in accordance with our law.
“It seems also that people are not tired of trying our resolve. Well, we are also not tired of rising up to the challenge and living up to our own responsibility for keeping every one of us safe.
“Governance is a serious matter. We don’t take things lightly in civil aviation because it means the lives of people. We are highly regulated, we are international and we are one aviation.
“Going forward, we will put up mechanisms in place or escalate the mechanisms we have in place to detract people from doing so and it means that we will be stricter in our approvals and whoever dares us will meet the consequences.”