FG Warns VIPs, Investigates Yari, Fintiri over Breach of Airport Protocols

Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika
  • Predicts more COVID-19 deaths by September

Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government has warned very important personalities (VIPs) and unruly passengers against breaching laid down airport protocols on COVID-19, stressing that it has escalated investigation into the unruly conduct and breaches of COVID-19 safety protocols at the airports by the Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Ahmadu Fintiri and the former Governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Abdulaziz Yari.

Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday said that it has activated 54 testing centres across 30 states of the federation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

This is coming as the federal government has asked owners of businesses and shops to deny any customer not wearing face mask access to their facilities.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika gave the warning to VIPs thursday while giving updates at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 press briefing in Abuja.

Sirika said he had received complaints from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) about the alleged unruly conduct of the VIP passengers.

He said the passengers will be investigated and prosecuted by the police for the alleged infraction, owhich attracts a jail sentence of not less than two months if found guilty.

‘’The ministry and agency have received a lot of enquiry regarding some alleged unruly passengers. One of the agencies – FAAN in particular received a lot of complaints. “FAAN has escalated what has happened. These alleged unruly passengers included the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari whom I spoke with at length yesterday- and the current Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri.

‘’ They are being investigated. And if it is found to be true, we will do the needful. If it is found be untrue, we will definitely apologise to these individuals,’’ Sirika said.

The minister, who quoted the Nigeria Civil Aviation regulations part 19 Section 91 (1) and part 17 97 (2), which define an unruly passenger and how to deal with them for the offence committed at the airport terminal building or on board an aircraft.

The minister, who pleaded with VIPs to conduct themselves in manner that dignifies their status, said the airports are borderless national security assets that are fitted with security cameras, capable of picking up anybody, adding that those whoever breaks the rule will be investigated and prosecuted once found guilty.

Sirika said Yola and Kaduna airports were expected to open yesterday night, while Calabar had been inspected and ready for operation, apart from challenge with one of the security equipment.

He also added that Sokoto, Katsina, and Kebbi states’ airports will be inspected today and will be opened afterwards, while Ilorin, Ibadan, Benin and Akure airports will not be ready for inspection until July 20, going by the assurance by the local airport managers.

“Makurdi airport, which is scheduled for Saturday; we will pair it up with Jos. Some of those we are expecting them to send their plan for restart and some are not airport owned by the federal government like Bauchi, Gombe, Asaba and Escravos”.

Meanwhile, the federal government has also issued an advisory to the general public to procure their sanitisers and other pharmaceutical products from credible sources.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha said yesterday that 63 per cent of the alcohol-based sanitizers in Abuja did not have NAFDAC registration numbers.

Mustapha said the discovery was made following a survey conducted by the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to check the influx of substandard goods into the market.

Mustapha has also appealed to Nigerians to change their perception about COVID-19, warning that the infection figures are not likely to
abate, but will continue with time.

He also projected that more Nigerians will die by September.

On its part, NCDC said that it has activated 54 testing centres across 30 states of the federation since the beginning of the pandemic in the country.

Speaking at the media briefing, the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the centre was working very hard to make sure that it covers the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Nigeria with testing laboratories.

Also speaking at the briefing, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire asked owners of businesses and shops to deny any customer not wearing face mask access to their facilities.

Ehanire said that users of face masks should also ensure that it covers their mouths and noses.

He said that other countries in the world, including even the most liberal in Europe, are making masks mandatory for people who use public transport and even outside, and are imposing a fine for non-compliance.