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18 May 2020

COVID-19: Why UK plane was impounded by FG — Minister

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, yesterday said the Federal Government had impounded an aircraft belonging to Flair Aviation, a United Kingdom-based aviation company, for violating the current ban on flights into the country.

But strong indications emerged that pressure is already being mounted on the Federal Government to soft-pedal on the incident.It was gathered that those responsible for the flight into the country were already using their contacts within the government to plead for leniency.

The source,who does not want to be named, said: “You don’t expect those responsible for this serious breach of Presidential order to fold their arms and allow justice to take its course.
They are already pleading and lobbying. Don’t worry, an official statement will be issued later,” . Sirika had disclosed government action on his official twitter handle @hadisirika, saying the company sought approval for humanitarian operations, only to embark on commercial flights into the Murtala Muhammad Airport in Lagos.

The impounded aircraft, an Embraer Legacy 600 jet, marked G-ERFX, with capacity for 13 passengers, It was learned last night, is currently being detained at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. Sirika said the flight crew of the flight is also being interrogated to know their level of culpability, stressing there shall be maximum penalty for the offence.

Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably we caught them conducting commercial flights. “This is callous! The craft is impounded, crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, has commenced investigation into the incident in a bid to unmask possible internal collaborators.

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