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FG Launches Task Force to Crack Down on Illegal Private Charters

Mr. Festus Keyamo

On Thursday in Abuja, the Federal Government launched a special task force to tackle illegal private charter flights and other issues in the aviation industry.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, said the task force will keep track of all holders of Private Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF) permits and Air Operator Certificates (AOC).

He explained that the committee will help find out why illegal private charters continue to happen in the country despite existing regulations.

“To call in all professional licenses of pilots and crew in the country and determine their authenticity and validity.

“To recommend to the minister, any additional measures to be taken by regulatory agencies to stem the ugly tide. To recommend appropriate sanctions to be imposed by the regulatory agencies on defaulters.

“To recommend additional measures to further monitor operations and activities of private aircraft in Nigeria and any other terms of reference that may be determined by the minister as the Task Force continues its work,“ he said.

He added that members of the task force had been carefully selected from within the aviation industry and were people of high repute and integrity.

According to the minister, members of the Task Force include Capt. Ado Sanusi as Chairman; Capt. Roland lyayi as Vice Chairman; Director of Air Transport, Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development as Secretary.

“Other members are -Theresa Babaoye (DATR-NCAA);One nominee from the National Security Adviser – Capt Daniel Quansah ; Capt. Patrick Ogunlowo ; Obafemi Bajomo (SA-HMA).

“This Task -Force is not only a response to the current challenges but also a proactive step toward ensuring the long-term sustainability and integrity of our aviation sector.

“We expect the Task-Force to work for three months, except circumstances require some extension, “ he said.

Keyamo canvassed collective working diligently to restore confidence in the aviation industry, eliminate illegal operations, and ensure that every flight in the nation`s skies adhered to the highest standards of safety and legality.

He expressed optimism that such collective efforts would lead to a stronger, more secure, and prosperous aviation industry.

“It has come to my attention, through a series of disturbing reports, that practice of illegal charter operations is thriving within the aviation industry, thereby undermining efforts of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other regulatory bodies.

“These illicit activities have resulted in significant financial losses to the Federal Government and also have raised security and safety concerns as operations of private aircraft owners have remained largely unchecked and unregulated.

“This has also resulted in using these private aircraft for other illegal activities.”

He said the National Security Adviser wrote to alert the ministry last week of the spike in money laundering, drug-trafficking and other illegal activities through the use of private aircraft in the country.

“It appears that Private Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF) operators have become increasingly emboldened, continuing their illegal operations with the assistance of Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who collect tolls and list these illegal charters under their AOCs.

“Furthermore, we have received alarming reports that some crew members have not attended mandatory simulator training for nearly three years and are flying with fraudulently-obtained renewed licenses.

“Many of these individuals are operating planes registered under PNCF but are conducting illegal charter operations with impunity, “ he said.

“In light of these grave concerns and in alignment with two key objectives of our five-point agenda, I am compelled to take this decisive action, “ he said.

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