Keyamo Accuses Private Jet Operators Of Money Laundering, Drug Trafficking

The minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, says some private aircraft operating in Nigeria are being used for money laundering, drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

Keyamo made the revelation at the Ministry of Aviation in Abuja yesterday, when he inaugurated a Ministerial Taskforce Committee to checkmate illegal chartered operations in the country.

Though the minister did not mention the names of the airlines, he asserted that these illegal activities have made the sector lose billions of dollars and raised serious security concerns.

The minister further stated that some of those involved in the illegal activities are those who acquired licences for non-commercial flights operations but gone against the stipulated agreement of the licence

Addressing the committee members, Keyamo mandated that they take inventory of all non-commercial flights operators, investigate all professional licences and checkmate their authenticity as well as recommend disciplinary measures against airlines found culpable.

“It has come to my attention, through a series of disturbing reports, that the practice of illegal charter operations is thriving within the aviation industry, thereby undermining the efforts of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other regulatory bodies. These illicit activities have not only resulted in significant financial losses to the Federal Government, but have also raised security and safety concerns as the operations of private aircraft owners have remained largely unchecked and unregulated. This has also resulted in using these private aircrafts for other illegal activities.

“Last week, the National Security Adviser wrote to us, alerting us of the spike in money laundering, drug-trafficking and other illegal activities through the use of private aircrafts 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 licences. Many of these individuals are operating planes registered under PNCF but are conducting illegal charter operations with impunity.

“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. Today, I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Ministerial Task Force on Illegal Private Charter Operations and Related Matters.”

The eight-man committee was chaired by the chief executive office of Aero Contractors, Ado Sanusi, and the committee is expected to report all findings to the minister within the next three months.

The Task Force is charged with the terms of reference of taking inventory of all PNCF holders and AOC holders.

“To determine why the practice of illegal charters by PNCF holders persists in the country despite regulatory controls. To call in all professional licences 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 this ugly tide.

“To recommend appropriate sanctions to be imposed by the regulatory agencies on defaulters. To recommend additional measures to further monitor the operations and activities of private aircraft in Nigeria. Any other terms of reference that may be determined by the Minister as the Task Force continues its work.

“The members of the Task Force have been carefully selected from within the aviation industry and are people of high repute and integrity.

The members of the Task Force are, Capt. Ado Sanusi as Chairman; Capt. Roland lyayi as vice chairman; director of Air Transport, FMA&AD, secretary; Theresa A. Babaoye (DATR-NCAA) as Member and One Nominee from the National Security Adviser as member.

Others are, Capt. Daniel Quansah as member; Capt. Patrick Ogunlowo as Member; Obafemi Bajomo (SA-HMA) – Member.

“This Task Force is not only a response to the current challenges but also a proactive step towards 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.

“Together, we will work diligently to restore confidence in our aviation industry, eliminate illegal operations, and ensure that every flight in our skies adheres to the highest standards of safety and legality.”


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