14 November 2012

Nigeria: Foreign Airlines - Minister Must Appear in Person, Reps Insist

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation yesterday commenced investigation into reports that Aviation Minister Stella Oduah has blocked four foreign airlines from landing in Abuja and Kano airports.

The House had on November 6th mandated the committee to investigate reports that Oduah had refused to grant landing permits to Emirates, Etihad, Ethiopian Turkish and Asky airlines who have all applied to commence commercial flights to Abuja and Kano after a motion was sponsored by Rep. Ali Madaki (PDP, Kano).

When the hearing begun yesterday, the minister did not appear in person but was represented by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ms Anne Ene-Itaq.

However, when asked by committee chair Rep. Nkiruka Onyejiocha whether the allegations raised in the motion was true, she said the ministry never had any dealings with the said airlines on the matter and denied receiving any correspondences from them. But shortly after, Ms Ene-Itaq quickly changed her stance when the sponsor of the motion, Rep. Madaki presented copies of letters, both from some of the affected airlines and the ministry's response to the correspondences.

She had earlier told the committee that the minister had not at any time deny the airlines the landing rights, blaming the delay on procedures in the process of reviewing the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and countries of origin of the affected airlines, in order to accommodate the new requests.

But Madaki recalled an instance where Asky Airline had to approach the Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to intervene on its behalf, who in turn wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan to compel the Aviation Minister to grant the airline landing right to MAKIA.

"Somebody is lying under oath here and not willing to discharge his or her responsibilities to the Federal Republic of Nigeria," said Rep. Aminu Suleiman Goro (PDP, Kano).

Consequently, Rep. Onyejiocha ruled that Ms. Oduah has to appear in person before the committee and summoned the four affected airlines.

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