Aviation Minister says Naira Marley flew into Abuja illegally
The private jet company that airlifted Marley and his crew to Abuja has been suspended indefinitely.
Lagos-based Marley performed at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja on Saturday, June 13, 2020.
The event was advertised as a drive-in concert with social gatherings still banned across Nigeria due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
However, social media users heavily criticized the concert organisers and the singer after footage of the event found their way online.
A crowd of young revelers was seen in social media clips dancing to Marley’s energy sapping, lewd and adrenaline-fueled tunes in close proximity and in total disregard for physical and social distancing protocols outlined by federal and sub-national governments since Nigeria’s index COVID-19 case was reported in February.
Marley’s presence in the capital city of Abuja, at a time when interstate travel has been prohibited, raised plenty of concerns as well and sparked outrage online.
Domestic flights are still banned as well in Nigeria, leaving many to wonder why Marley was permitted to fly into Abuja aboard a jet.
On Sunday night, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) sealed off the Jabi Lake Mall for violating the presidential ban on "large gatherings."
During a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 of Monday, June 15, 2020, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said the jet that conveyed Marley to Abuja from Lagos was approved for a different purpose.
Sirika also announced the suspension of the jet company.
“We approved a flight indeed, but not for any musician. Approved flight was to convey a Justice on official assignment, but ExecuJet illegally used it to convey a musician to Abuja for a concert,” Sirika said.
“The operation is a clear violation of our approvals which we take seriously. It seems this is becoming a norm as it’s the second time. ExecuJet services are hereby suspended indefinitely and we’ll also fine them maximally according to the law.
“The captain of the flight will also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower. It seems also that the people are not tired of trying our resolve. We will put stricter mechanisms in place to prevent this from happening again,” the minister added.
The pilots who flew Marley and his team will be sanctioned.
Pulse understands that the jet that airlifted Marley and his crew to the capital city was supposed to take Justice Adefope Okoji to Abuja and back to Lagos.
Africa's most populous nation has had a hard time enforcing coronavirus-induced restrictions, with police officers aiding and abetting interstate travel and the flouting of federally imposed curfews, for a fee.
It is the second time Marley, who has branded himself and his fans as outlaws, would be found on the wrong side of the law in COVID-19 season.
In April, Marley showed up at a house party organised by actress Funke Akindele and her rapper husband JJC Skillz, in Lagos, epicenter of Nigeria's COVID-19 outbreak.
He got away with a slap on the wrist for his troubles.
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