Ahead of the June 21 date for the resumption of domestic flights in the country, the Federal Government has said only five airports will be operational while others are to remain closed for further assessment.
This was contained in a circular to airlines signed by the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
In the circular dated June 1, the regulator stressed that the country’s airspace was still closed to international flights while domestic flights could start from June 21, as announced on Monday by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
Nuhu said, “The closure of Nigerian airports to domestic flights has been extended to 2300hrs on 20th June 2020.
“The gradual start of domestic flight operations will commence on 21st June 2020 with Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja, Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano, Omagwa International Airport Port Harcourt, and Sam Mbakwe Airport Owerri.
“Other airports will be gradually added to the network after a review and assessment.”
The country’s airports and airspace were shut in March by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commercial flight operations, both local and international, had stopped forthwith but the President’s directive allowed the operation of essential flights, including those for medical and evacuation purposes.
However, during its briefing in Abuja on June 1, the PTF asked the aviation sector to begin to develop protocols that would lead to the resumption of domestic flights any time from June 21.
PTF National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said, “The aviation industry is requested to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from the 21st of June onwards.
Malami Recants, Says He Won’t Testify Before Salami Panel over Magu
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has written a letter to the Presidential panel probing the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
Malami, who is also the Minister of Justice, told the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami that he would not be able to appear before the investigative body because of the privileges of his office.
The development comes less than two weeks after the AGF boasted that he would appear before the panel to testify if he was invited.
Magu’s legal team led by Mr. Wahab Shittu, had subpoenaed Malami, demanding that he appear before the panel to substantiate the allegations he preferred against the suspended EFCC boss.
However, it was learnt that during the sitting of the panel on Wednesday, Salami read out a letter from Malami stating that he would no longer be able to appear.
Confirming the incident to The PUNCH on Thursday, a lawyer to Magu, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, said they were all shocked when Justice Salami read out the letter.
He said, “We were all gathered at the Presidential Villa for the day’s proceedings when Justice Salami read out a letter from the AGF. The AGF stated that he would not be able to testify because his constitutional role does not include testifying. He said his duty was to prosecute and file charges.
“I was shocked because Section 174 of the constitution does not give the AGF such privileges. Isn’t it funny that the AGF who levelled a series of allegations against Magu is now refusing to substantiate the allegations that emanated from his office?”
When contacted on the telephone, the Spokesman for the AGF, Dr. Umar Gwandu, asked our correspondent to send him a text message and he would respond appropriately.
However, he had yet to do so as of press time.
Magu was suspended in July based on some reports by investigative panels set up by the AGF.
Some of the allegations were that Magu was unable to account for the interest accrued to over N500bn in recovered funds and that he allegedly bought a house in Dubai for N570m.
The suspended EFCC boss was also said to be at loggerheads with the AGF and had refused to obey instructions from his office.
However, in the course of the investigation by the panel, the probe was extended to several other cases including that of convicted former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun.
Over 40 persons including those standing trial for corruption have testified before the panel, a move which has been criticised by Magu’s team and other anti-corruption groups.
The panel is supposed to have ended its sitting since last month but was given a six-week extension which lapses this month.
Kogi Tanker Explosion Claims Lives of Schoolchildren, Many Others, Buhari Mourns
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, said he was disturbed by the petroleum tanker explosion that claimed 23 lives earlier in the day in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Most of the victims of the tanker explosion, which occurred in the Felele area of Lokoja, along the Lokoja/Abuja Highway, were schoolchildren and students of the state-owned polytechnic located a short distance away from the scene.
A man from Okene was said to have lost six children to the inferno, while a family of five was wiped out in the accident that some referred to as the worst in the year so far.
The victims included five students of the Kogi State Polytechnic and three nursery pupils, who were on their way to school.
Also, pupils from the Baptist Academy, whose number had yet to be ascertained, were among those killed.
Also killed was a businessman, identified simply as Samson, alongside his wife and three children.
Samson was said that be dealing in sewing machines and wanted to drop off his children at school as had become his daily routine before opening his shop.
The 33,000-litre tanker, which was laden with Premium Motor Spirit and belonged to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was said to have suffered brake failure around 8am and rammed into five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, killing all the occupants.
Buhari said the tragedy represented “another disturbing and saddening incident in the litany of tragedies that have befallen our country.”
Buhari’s position was contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled: ‘President Buhari mourns victims of Lokoja tanker explosion’.
Shehu quoted the President as expressing worry over the frequency of what he called “large-scale tragedies” in the country.
Buhari was also said to have regretted that the frequent incidents, which he described as a national scandal, were mostly caused by people’s indifference to safety standards.
The President was quoted to have said, “I am seriously worried about the frequency of these unfortunate and large-scale tragedies in the country, which cause needless deaths.
“These frequent incidents that result in loss of lives and property are a national scandal caused by our indifference to safety standards.
“Many accidents are preventable if proper proactive and precautionary measures are put in place or properly observed as routine policies.
“Ours is a country where we move on whenever tragedies occur instead of taking preventive safety measures to forestall future calamities.”
The President therefore called on the county’s transport authorities, traffic and road management agencies as well as law enforcement officials to sit up and enforce safety standards with more seriousness.
He added, “Refusal to do the right thing can cause potential tragic problems that harm innocent people.
“Nigeria is not having a shortage of laws and regulations, but our problem is lack of zeal to enforce those laws and regulations for the sake of public safety.”
He condoled with the state government and the bereaved families.
“I was about crossing the road when I noticed the driver of the tanker signalling of the impending danger due to brake failure, and before one could say Jack Robinson, the 33,000-litre tanker conveying Premium Motor Spirit fell on its side and started spilling the content, which caught fire and burnt all vehicles in the vicinity,” an eyewitness, who spoke on condition anonymity, toldPUNCH Metro.
One of our correspondents, who got to the scene a few minutes after the explosion, counted five burnt cars, three tricycles and two motorcycles.
Although the Sector Commander of the Federal Road safety Corps in the state, Idris Fika Ali, said 23 persons lost their lives, sources said close to 40 casualties might have been recorded.
IPOB Declares October 1, Sit-at-Home in Solidarity with Oduduwa Agitation
The Indigenous People of Biafra has declared October 1 a sit-at-home day across states in the South-East region, which it described as Biafraland.
The IPOB stated that the sit-at-home declaration was in solidarity with its Yoruba brothers in the Diaspora agitating for Oduduwa Republic.
It said the decision was to avert what it called wild killing in the area by some terrorists.
The group said it got credible intelligence that terrorist groups planned to attack people of the region intending to celebrate the Independence Day.
In a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB said its members would join its Yoruba brethren agitating for Oduduwa Republic, in public protests to mark the day.
The pro-Biafran group said a complete and total lockdown of Biafraland and other terror ravaged areas of the Middle Belt on 1st of October 2020 was sacrosanct, irreversible and non-negotiable.
The statement partly read, “We enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple double blow of state sponsored terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organised ceremony designed to eulogise the failure that Nigeria has become.
“We, the global movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafraland and where permissible in the Diaspora, join our Yoruba brethren agitating for Oduduwa Republic in public protests to mark October 1, 2020.