Msheilla: Illegal charter operators, economic saboteurs

  • Lauds NCAA for nabbing culprit, seeks stiffer penalty for offenders


More plaudits have come the way of Nigeria’s aviation regulatory body, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for nabbing an illegal charter operator masquerading as simply using his aircraft for private operation.

This is coming as Chairman, West Link Airlines, Capt. Ibrahim Mshelia described offenders as economic saboteurs, just as stated that the regulatory agency needed the support of all in order to effectively sanitise the industry.

The activities of these operators according to the aviation regulatory body may have cost the NCAA and the sector several millions of dollars annually in taxes and Tickets Sales Charges (TSC).

The Director General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu had during an online interview last week with the Chairman, Africa Business Aviation Association, AfBAA, Mr. Nike Fadugba, said, the NCAA had put mechanisms in place to identify these illegal operators and apply the full weight of the law.

He stated that, NCAA enforces sanction regime on charter operations, these include fines and certificate sanctions and also had what is called the permit for non-commercial flights, PNCF, which is given to the private operators.

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According to him, “This private operators are required to file monthly reports on the number of flights conducted and with passenger manifest for us to look and determine that  possibly these are legal charter operations”.


Private jets on airport tarmac

The West Link owner, Mshiella explained that full autonomy of NCAA would further empower and embolden it to carry out some reform processes in the sector, lamenting that a few of the operators who carry out this act were “connected” in the country.

According to Mshiella, the current Director-General, NCAA with his international experience and exposure was ready and willing to carry out the needed reforms in the sector, but said all hands must be on deck to make this work.

Mshelia, however, frown at the 60 days suspension of the culprit and planned seizure of its Permit for Non- Commercial Flight (PNCF), saying the punishment was too little to deter others from engaging in such act in the future.

Rather, he suggested that the regulatory agency should hand over such culprit to the security agencies for proper prosecution, insisting that such act was an economic crime against the state.

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He, however, observed that NCAA’s action may be limited because of the civil aviation regulations, but declared that for proper cleansing of the sub-sector, it was proper for the Department of Security Services (DSS) and other security agencies to wade into the matter.

Mshelia advised that instead of engaging in illegal charter services, some of the private jet operators should change their license to commercial, airlift clients legally, create more jobs for teeming professionals and pay the appropriate levies and taxes to the government.

He said: “NCAA in what they are doing at the moment, they need our help. So many of us know the truth and we can help NCAA to act. We have a system that is hopeless, but you cannot say the truth in the public, otherwise you are called the radical. It shows us that the current NCAA helmsman is determined to exhibit what he has learnt from outside. The man was in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). He knows what is happening in other countries, he has seen it and he has come to say no.

“The real truth is that there are powerful people behind all these illegal actions. If they are not, it would have been easy to flush them out. They want to live big. Some of these people are in a position to stop this in a minute, but they are involved in it. If we dig deeper, we will find them out.

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“I disagree with the DG on the 60 days suspension of license. That is a crime against the economy of the country. That is a crime against all we stand for. Why will NCAA just give such a little punishment? The punishment should be more serious.

“I want to call your attention to something, NCAA is not a law court; it has its limitation legislatively on how it can punish citizens legislatively. I want to advise that the NCAA should go further by handing over the culprit for prosecution in the law court. In that case, it will be in order. To me, the 60 days is too little.”


Wole Shadare