SWITZERLAND, JULY 17 – The Federal Government has said that it is investigating the flouting of COVID-19 protocol put in place at three domestic airports by VIPs, warning that if found guilty, they will either go to jail of two months and above, pay a fine or get both sanctions combined.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, gave the warning on Thursday in Abuja at the 51st joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
Recall that Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, reportedly flouted COVID-19 protocol put in place at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Rivers State.
Also, a former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, was alleged to have assaulted an official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) on Saturday. FAAN had on Wednesday tweeted on its official Twitter handle that the ex-governor allegedly assaulted an airport official on Saturday 11th July 2020.
Yari, however, denied the allegation, saying he followed all the COVID-19 preventive protocols set by FAAN. Sirika said if investigations revealed that the VIPs did not flout the protocols as alleged by FAAN, an apology will be tendered publicly to them. He added that whilst reopening of all airports for domestic operations in Nigeria remains so, the government is however at liberty to open and close the airports as may be necessitated by other operational reasons.
The minister said that the ministry and agencies have received lots of inquiry regarding some alleged unruly passengers and that one of the agencies, FAAN in particular had tweeted and because of that he receive lots of questions.
He said, “So FAAN has escalated what has transpired, these alleged unruly passengers included the former Governor of Zamfara state. Abdulaziz Yari, whom I spoke to yesterday (Wednesday) at length; the current governor of Adamawa Ahmadu Fintiri. “Abdulaziz Yari was on Saturday in Kano. And that of Fintiri is in Port Harcourt and Chief Nduka Obaigbena also alleged here in Abuja.
“Now those are being investigated and if it is found that it was true, we will do the needful and if it is found untrue, we would definitely apologize to these individuals.” According to him, going through the Nigeria civil aviation regulations, there is a definition of an unruly passenger.
He said, “It goes to say in part 17, 97, 1: that any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal building or on-board a particular aircraft commits an offence. So first is an offense.
“An unruly passenger, according to table two 9, (51) an unruly passenger behaviour requires the punishment of criminal referral for imprisonment for not less than two months so you can get ten years,” he said.