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Relocation of aviation agencies to Abuja is political, stakeholders allege

The directive to immediately relocate headquarters of all aviation agencies from Lagos to Abuja has been described as “political and not in the best interest of the sector at this time of economic distress.”

Stakeholders, made up of operators and service providers, yesterday said the “move, besides satisfying private interests of a few, has a wrong timing that will cost the Federal Government more in scarce resources.”

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had directed aviation agencies to relocate to the federal capital city with in 45 days.

The directive, as contained in a memo from the ministry dated May 4, 2020, stated that the marching order was in line with the Federal Government’s 2012 plan to relocate all corporate headquarters to Abuja and in line with the current economic realities.

“Affected are the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) that currently has its headquarters in Lagos.

The Guardian learnt that the fresh directive was the third in a row of attempts to check the spread of the disease.

President of Sabre West Africa, Dr. Gbenga Olowo, said it was difficult to understand the rationale of relocating the headquarters during the interstate’s movement restriction and given that aviation businesses would gradually start recovering probably in the third quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has impounded an aircraft and crew belonging to Flair Aviation, a United Kingdom-based aviation company for allegedly operating an illegal commercial flight.

The operator got approval and flew into Nigeria to do humanitarian operations. Upon arrival, the mission turned out to be commercial flight operation under prohibition.

Nigeria in March restricted all commercial flight services as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The restriction, which exempts cargo and emergency services, was further extended recently for another four weeks.

Confirming the arrest yesterday via his official twitter handle, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stated that the team was being interrogated as “there shall be maximum penalty for the offence.”

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