Senate recommends four-month ban for unruly VIPs at airports
FAAN Insists On Observance Of Standard Protocol
The Nigerian Senate yesterday urged aviation authorities to blacklist Very Important Persons (VIPs) that are violating the COVID-19 safety and security protocol at airports by prescribing a four-month ban for such offenders. The apex legislative body also recommended that such violators should be exposed publicly to serve as a deterrent to others.
This is coming as the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said it would not be deterred in implementing its Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the success of its security and public health protocol in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Guardian yesterday reported that both sitting and former governors, as well as other VIPs were violating, with impunity, the various safety and security protocol at airports.
FAAN called out Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State; former governor of Zamfara, AbdulAziz Yari, and the publisher of a national daily, among others, for airport infractions.
In a letter addressed to Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi, said it would not be out of place to bring all violators to book.
Adeyemi said it had been brought to his attention that some highly placed individuals, who ought to adhere completely to the guidelines put in place have been found wanting.
“It has been reported that these individuals have shown unwillingness to comply with set down rules and guidelines for the safety of all Nigerians. This must not be condoned under any circumstance,” he noted.
Adeyemi reckoned that the virus was no respecter of status or position, stressing that in the face of health issues, everyone was equal and no individual should be allowed to jeopardise the health and safety of another.
“In truth, public office holders and highly placed individuals should be more concerned about the safety of the people. With position comes the burden of service.
“I, therefore, urge that any Nigerian, who deliberately fail to comply with all measures as directed, should not be allowed entry into the Nigerian airports for at least four months, irrespective of his position. Furthermore, such individuals should be blacklisted at all airports and exposed on social media. This will serve as a deterrent to others,” he said.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an association of 280 airlines, unruly passenger incidents are a significant daily operational challenge.
In 2018, the organisation received reports of 8,000 such incidents, with alcohol a high-ranking contributing factor. Not being allowed to smoke and getting annoyed with other passengers are other common causes. In 2011, 6,000 incidents were reported compared to 2007’s 500.
Last year, Nigeria lent support to the global move to tackle unruly passengers by ratifying the ‘Protocol to Amend the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft’, otherwise called the Montreal Protocol 2014.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while depositing the ratification in Montreal, Canada, said the feat was in line with Nigeria’s efforts to support air laws against unruly behaviour on board aircraft.
The General Manager, Public Affairs of FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, reiterated that failure by any passenger to adhere with the protocol, no matter how highly placed, would warrant being denied access to the airport in this era of new normal.
“These protocols are now part of the new normal all over the world, and no person, no matter how highly placed, is exempt from them, else he would be denied access to our facilities,” she said.She said the recent incident involving three VIPs was not personal, adding that they were merely implementing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
“FAAN has no personal issues with Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari and Governor Fintiri. We are merely implementing our SOPs to assure the success of our Security and Public health Protocols.
“The protocols flouted by both personalities were duly approved by the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. They were intended to protect all airport users and to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“FAAN wishes to restate the need for all air travellers to strictly adhere to the security, public health and operational protocols put in place to make air travel in the country safe, secure and efficient, especially in the midst of this pandemic. Our esteemed government officials and other VIPs should not only comply with the rules, but also provide leadership for other air travelers by projecting good conduct and protecting public safety,” she said.