We were fooled that Azeez ‘Naira Marley’ Fashola was Babatunde Fashola – Executive Jet CEO
Executive Jets Services Limited which the federal government suspended for flying a controversial musician, Azeez Fashola popularly called Naira Marley to attend a concert in Abuja, has apologised to the minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika for “mixing” the musician’s name with that of the minister for works and housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
It would be recalled that Sirika had, yesterday ordered the immediate suspension of the charter airline for flying the musician from Lagos to Abuja for a concert.
Sirika said at that day’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja that the federal government approved the flight to fly Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos for essential purposes and not the musician.
Sirika said the flight was approved “because it considered judiciary as part of essential services,” and frowned at the charter company’s fraudulent use of the approval.
“Well, e approved a flight but certainly not for any musician. The flight, from the application, was to convey Honourable Justice Adefope Okojie from Lagos to Abuja and back to Lagos for an official assignment.
“In this challenging time, in our wisdom, we considered the judiciary to be part of the essential service to be delivered. Having to move the Hon. Justice from Lagos to Abuja was in order.
“The approval was given for the 14th of June, 2020. However, we do give them a leeway of 24 hours, sometimes due to operational reasons,” he said.
The minister therefore announced an indefinite suspension of the operation of charter airline for going outside the brief of the approval and sanctioning of the pilot of the aircraft for misleading the control tower.
“The operation is a clear violation of our approval to which we take very seriously and it seems this is becoming a norm. Perhaps, this is the second time.
“So, Executive Air Services operations are hereby suspended indefinitely. We will also fine them maximally according to the law.
“The captain of the flight will also be sanctioned for giving wrong information to the control tower and also appropriately in accordance with our law,” he said.
However, the chairman and chief executive officer of the company, Mr. Sam Iwuajoku, said in a letter to Sirika that he gave the approval for the flight thinking the passenger was the minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola.
In a letter dated June 15, 2020 and titled ‘Re: Flight For 13/06/2020 done by Executive Jets Services Ltd to Abuja’ Iwuajoku said he did not know the said passengers were “a bunch of useless people”.
“We hereby apologise for the above flight with your permit ref: FMA/ATMD/0175/V/V/1268 dated 11th June 2020.
“Please the flight was to carry a judge to Abuja on Sunday, 14th, June 2020 as requested and the permit was granted based on the application but unfortunately, when I called the Judge on Saturday morning to inform him that we have the permit, he then said he has reached Abuja already with a different flight that someone gave him a lift to Abuja.
“So, on Saturday morning, 13th June 2020, my staff called me that they have a charter flight to Abuja, and that the passengers are already in the lounge. As a rule, passenger manifests are always sent to me before departure.
“When I went through the manifest and saw Fashola Babatunde, I thought it was the honourable minister of works going to Abuja with his men. So, we decided to do the flight since he is a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I didn’t know that it was a bunch of useless people.
“We are very sorry for this mistake and we promise that this would not happen again,” said the
The airline owner revealed that he gave a discount on the flight fare thinking the beneficiary was the works minister.
“We have learned our lessons and we will be more careful going forward,” wrote Iwuajoku
Premium Times reports that Naira Marley had on Saturday June 13, performed at a concert in Abuja despite the interstate travel ban and social distancing rules aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.