Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government of Nigeria is investigating the COVID-19 airport protocol breach at three domestic airports by some dignitaries.
He said if they are found guilty, they would “either go to jail of two months and above, pay a fine or get both penalties combined.”
He said the jail term could be up to 10 years.
The Minister disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had earlier accused Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, and a former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, of airport protocol breach.
The digniteries, however, through their media aides, refuted the allegations.
Sirika said if investigations shows that the duo did not defy the protocol as asserted by the FAAN, apologies would be tendered to them publicly.
“FAAN has escalated what has transpired.
“These alleged unruly passengers included the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, whom I spoke to yesterday [Wednesday] at length and the current governor of Adamawa, Ahmadu Fintiri.
“Abdulaziz Yari was on Saturday in Kano.
“And that of Fintiri was in Port Harcourt and Chief Nduka Obaigbena was also alleged here in Abuja.
“Now, those are being investigated and if it is found that it was true, we’ll do the needful and if it’s found untrue, we would definitely apologize to these individuals.”
As stated by him, going through the Nigeria civil aviation regulations, there is a definition of unruly passenger.
“It goes to say in part 17, 97, 1, that any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal building or onboard a particular aircraft commits an offence. So, first it is an offence.
“…According to table two 9, (51) an unruly passenger behaviour requires the punishment of criminal referral for imprisonment for not less than two months.
“So, it can be ten years.
“So, if you‘re found to be unruly passenger because you’re a big man, VIP, the simplest thing we could do is to refer you to the police and they must, by law, prosecute you and it’ll be not less than two months.
“And I’m sure you don’t want to be a criminal for one day.
“Even for one second, no one wants to be a criminal.
“Please, VIPs, please, show that you’re a VIP by conducting yourself in the manner you’d want to be identified with.
“If you’re are caught, we have some videos on this unruly passengers who we’ll investigate and the punishment will be not less than two months of being criminally liable by a court of law,”
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, on Thursday in Lagos, emphasized the need for the front line staff, particularly the airport security and health officials, to be bold in carrying out their duties to assure that every passenger, no matter the status, obey the protocols.
He said the National Assembly had agreed on to abide by the protocols and would not allow anyone to unnecessarily expose to danger the lives of Nigerians.