The Federal Government of Nigeria has imposed a fine of N1m on a United Kingdom airplane impounded last week for undertaking illegal commercial operations in Nigeria.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed that the impounded airplane and detained crew of Flairjet were found to have violated Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NigCAR) IS 1.3.3(a) Table 2(IV)7(a) and IS 1.3.3 (a) Table 2(VIII)(4). Sirika, speaking via his Twitter handle, noted that the maximum penalty for each of the infractions was N500,000, totalling N1 million (£2,100 at N475.8 exchange rate). “We caused them to pay and reported their callous misdemeanor to United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA), MFA and the UK High Commission”, the Minister added.

It would be recalled that Flairjet was caught making illegal commercial operations in Nigeria, after being given permission to carry out humanitarian services which were only allowed after the airspace was shut to commercial services. “Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights. “This is callous.

The aircraft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. “There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve!” After the arrest, the crew were quarantined for 14 days while the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) conducted investigation on the infraction. But Aviation analysts say the fine was too meagre.

Group Capt. John Ojikutu, rtd, an aviation stakeholder, noted that the fine was fixed when one pound was exchanged for N40. Those who commented on Sirika’s timeline, including the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Anjuri Ngelale, said they wished the fine was more.

“I only wish it was N50m per violation,” Ngelale wrote. Another Twitter user, Dayo Kehinde, says: “Penalties for violation of laws in critical areas such as this are overdue for review. “Relevant government agencies need to take action for updates.”

But Sirika, while responding to the call for review of the nation’s aviation laws, said: “Review of our laws is part of our roadmap approved by Mr President in 2016. “The bills have passed 2nd reading at NASS.

“I championed the first review whilst at NASS, 2006. “

This will make the 2nd review since 1963 when Jaja Wachukwu was minister, such a shame! Will get it right.”

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