There are strong indications that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may sanction the private jet that conveyed the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, from Benin Airport to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital for violation of safety procedures.
A source close to the regulatory agency on Thursday confided in our correspondent that the aircraft with the registration number: 5N-HPY ignored the warning of the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) not to take off due to the closure of the airport at that particular time due to its closure.
The issue: Despite the warning, it was learned that the pilot (names withheld), took off from the airport, thereby contravening safety rules.
The source told our correspondent that the NCAA has commenced an investigation into the violation of safety rules by the pilot and may sanction him if found wanting.
The source insisted that the regulatory agency was apolitical and would not be dragged into political matters by politicians, saying that it adheres strongly to best industry standards as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
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The source said: “The aircraft in question departed Benin Airport after it was closed. The pilot specifically ignored the instructions of the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) for the aircraft not to depart at that particular point in time because the airport was closed.
“As a regulatory agency, the NCAA cannot condone this kind of behaviour. We are going to investigate the matter. Everyone must obey instructions. This is a very sensitive industry that deals with human lives. Even Mr. President’s pilots obey instructions. Why should anyone act above the law? The aircraft remains grounded. We are investigating the violation.”
Recall that the Labour Party media arm, Obi-Datti Media Office, on Wednesday condemned the alleged grounding of its campaign aircraft by the NCAA, a situation it said almost disrupted its scheduled campaign rally in Ibadan.
Yet-to-be-explained grounding: Head of media, Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation, Diran Onifade said the party expressed surprise at the yet-to-be-explained grounding of its campaign aircraft, saying the action led to the inability of Labour Party and campaign officials, who had already gathered at Lagos and Abuja Airports, to attend the Ibadan rally.
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Onifade said the development took the party by surprise, but that couldn’t stop them from holding the rally as planned.
The statement reads: “The Obidient plane was grounded today by the powers that be “for regulatory reasons” only. Please ignore any mischievous rumour. Our massive rally in Ibadan is going on as planned.
“All we know is what the leasing vendor told us to the effect that federal authorities won’t allow the Obidient Aircraft to file a flight plan because of ongoing regulatory investigations.
“We are not privy to the specific details or nature of the investigations.
“Mischievous political operatives had cheaply seized the opportunity to spread the unfounded rumours of an air crash which was promptly dispelled. The Ibadan rally was however a huge success with the Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, making a stop at Iseyin Town before joining a multitude of organic supporters at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan.”