- The Nigerian Air Force denies that it took a political decision to stop the plane carrying elder statesmen from landing in Makurdi
- The NAF explains that the base is not meant for everybody but for operational purposes
- It, however, states that it gave special consideration, but that the procedure was not followed
The Nigerian Air Force, on Tuesday, July 17, explained why it did not allow a chartered flight conveying some elder statesmen to Makurdi, Benue state, for a summit. It said its decision was not political as claimed.
A statement by Air Vice Marshal OA Adesanya, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, said the base in Makurdi is strictly meant for the security body and not for the public.
Adesanya said there was no truth in the allegations that NAF’s decision was politically motivated.
“To start with, the runway at NAF Base Makurdi is not a dual user facility but one constructed strictly for military purpose. Accordingly, in line with global best practices, there is a clearly established procedure for non-NAF aircraft to operate into and out of the runway in Makurdi, and that procedure is well known to all qualified pilots in Nigeria.
“Indeed, many airlines had in the past adhered to the stipulated procedure and therefore successfully landed and taken off from the NAF runway in Makurdi.
“The procedure includes a written request to NAF headquarters Abuja for permission for a specific aircraft to operate into its airfield on a specific date and time, including the names of passengers and other necessary details.
“In this case, there was indeed a request for permit by the Benue state government, dated 16 July, 2018, for aircraft with registration number 5N-FCT to land at NAF base, Makurdi on 16 July, 2018.
“Although requests for landing permits are expected to reach NAF headquarters not later than two days before the desired landing date, the NAF went out of its way to expedite the process and accordingly granted the permit for aircraft with registration number 5N-FCT to land at NAF Base Makurdi on 16 July 2018.
“However, at about 5pm on 16 July 2018, the NAF was verbally informed that there was a need to change the aircraft for which permission had already been issued, reportedly because the aircraft had developed snags.
“The NAF, therefore, asked for another written request, in line with the established procedure. As at date, the NAF headquarters is yet to receive a written request for the replacement aircraft with registration number 5N-IZY to land at its base in Makurdi,” NAF said in the statement.
The Nigerian Air Force said it does not concern itself with political or religious affiliations of individuals/organisations in granting landing rights at its airfields.
It said the issue of security and safety remains uppermost adding that the ongoing Operation Whirl Stroke is largely being coordinated from NAF base in Makurdi.
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The security body said it remains a highly professional and apolitical organisation that would rather focus on its military duties.
It also urged those affected to stop dragging it into their grievances.
NAIJ.com earlier reported that elder statesman and convener of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has declared that only through restructuring of Nigeria would the every citizen of the country begin to enjoy their rights as expected and desired.
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