BEVERLY HILLS, June 17, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government has suspended the operations of a private jet charter and aircraft maintenance firm, Executive Jet Services, for flouting COVID-19 regulations by flying Musician, Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley, to Abuja to attend a concert.
This was disclosed on Monday by Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing in Abuja, where he also revealed that the pilot of the jet would also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower.
Sirika, said approval for the flight was for an essential service, as opposed to what it was eventually used for.
Sirika stated, “So, Executive Jet Services’ operations are hereby suspended indefinitely and we will also fine the firm maximally according to the law.
“The captain of the flight will also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower in accordance with the law.
“We approved a flight, but certainly not for any musician. The flight, from the application, was to convey Justice Adefope-Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos for an official assignment.
“And in this terrible time, in our wisdom, we considered the judiciary to be part of essential services to be delivered and to move the justice from Lagos to Abuja was in order.
“The approval was given for June 14, 2020. However, we do give them a leeway of 24 hours. Sometimes due to operational reasons, they can either operate the flight slightly earlier or slightly forward within the 24-hour window.
“In this case, the operator chose to fly on June 13 around 6pm. So, that in itself is not a violation, because we gave them the leeway. The operator is Executive Jet Services.”
Sirika added that the document that was given to the control tower also made it clear that the operation must be strictly under the COVID-19 protocols.
“Now, the operation was a clear violation of our approval to which we take very seriously and it seems that this is becoming a norm, perhaps this is the second time,” the minister stated.
“Now, it seems also that people are not tired of trying our resolve and I want them to know that we are also not tired of living and rising up to the challenge and our responsibility of keeping our people safe.
“We will now escalate the mechanisms that we have in place to deter people from doing so and it also means that we will be stricter in our approvals. Anyone, who dares us, will face the consequences.”
The Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sani Aliyu, said the FCT authorities would also take a decision on the matter.
“With regards to the fate of Naira Marley, I believe that the FCT authorities have already taken action with regards to the key organisers of the show.
“The decision in terms of whether or not he (Naira Marley) will face penalties is actually a decision for the FCT authorities.
“The PTF will certainly support any measures taken against people, who continue to violate the implementation of the guidelines that we have clearly enumerated, particularly if they continue to put public health at risk.”