The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has disclosed that five governors have been denied flight approval by him since the closure of the airports and the lockdown order by President, Major General (Retd.) Muhammadu Buhari owing to the measure to check the spread of COVID-19.
The minister said three out of the four governors who were denied flight approval were members of the All Progressives Congress.
Two of the governors, according to him are from the South-east, two from South-south while one was from North-central.
He, however, noted that 98 percent of the flight approved and those to be approved will be COVID-19 related.
Sirika disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the daily press briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
On whether some privileged citizens were flouting the no flight order by the aviation ministry, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika said: “Every single flight that we approved and will be approved will be an essential flight and 98percent of the essential flight will be connected to COVID-19.
“A few of them, maybe 1percent may be either repatriation, request from the diplomatic community which must go through foreign affairs, or repatriation due to illness of another kind which will be medical-kind and those evacuations will also need a stamp of a teaching hospital.
He went further to explain:
“However, I want to share with you a discussion I had on twitter with someone when I said we will not be able to open our airport and airspace as a result of the extension of the lockdown for normal operations and someone said; “Kindly stop all the VIPs shuttle going on. It makes no sense to lock citizens up and allow governors to stroll in and out of Abuja. In the first instance, they carried this virus into Nigeria and now running around is not Okay.” I said to the person that I agree with him but whatever is approved or whoever is approved to fly privately, governor or no governor is on an essential flight and it is addition and 98percent is related to COVID-19.
“There is no exception to governors. I have denied several of such flights. Including two governors from South-south, two from South-east and by the way, three of them are members of the APC and I think one is from North-central.
“For a flight to be approved, it shows that it is diligently done. It must be essential, COVID-19 related or other essential flights like cargo that will bring in medicines or equipment or other things related to COVID-19 or our whole wellbeing like food.
“Please trust us and bear with us for this period but it will end soon by God’s grace.”
On some flights flying around Abuja on Tuesday afternoon, he said: “I think it is occasioned by information dished out by the Nigerian Air Force that they will be carrying out flying activity this week to mark their week and I think what you see is the flight rehearsal.”