The House of Representatives has criticised the Very Important Personalities who disregarded the COVID-19 safety protocols at the nation’s airports.

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The House Committee on Aviation, which declared that such acts by the VIPs should not be tolerated, remarked that leaders who should lead by example were being caught breaking laws.

The committee particularly asked the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to bar such persons from entry.

Chairman of the committee, Nnaji Nnolim, issued a statement in Abuja on Thursday, in reaction to the rising cases of protocols breach.

It was entitled, ‘Airports: Rep Nnaji Condemns Safety Violations, Recommends Access Denials to Offenders.’

Former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, had been accused of breaking COVID-19 protocols at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport Kano and assaulted an official who attempted to enforce compliance. Yari had denied the allegation.

Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State had also been accused of violating COVID-19 protocols at the domestic wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State.

Nnaji’s statement partly read, “Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, has condemned the flagrant abuse of the safety protocols put in place by the FAAN and the NCAA in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for the reopening of air transport services.

“Honourable Nnaji, who was reacting to the reports of some highly placed Nigerians who refused to subject themselves to the health protocols instituted at the airports to safeguard the lives of airport workers and passengers against the deadly coronavirus, urged FAAN and NCAA to ensure that those who refuse to subject themselves to the protocols are denied future access to the airports.

“He said it was regrettable that people who pride themselves as leaders rather than show examples chose to exhibit this type of indiscipline to endanger the lives of both airport workers and other users of the airports.

“This type of behaviour cannot be tolerated. It is not a must that you have to travel by air but if you choose to, you must abide by the laid down procedures established by FAAN and NCAA in line with the NCDC guidelines.”

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Nnaji also urged the leadership of the agencies to be firm, while reiterating the need for the frontline staff, especially the airport security and health officials, to be courageous in carrying out their duties to ensure that “every passenger no matter the status observes the protocols.”

Nnaji added that all members and leadership of the National Assembly are “totally behind the aviation agencies and the frontline staff and will strongly protect them in doing the right things.”

He further said, “I am sure the executive and judicial arm of government are equally behind them. A lot of money has been sunk into the industry to meet the criteria in terms of protocols, trainings and materials deployment by the Airline operators and FAAN. Therefore, the government cannot tolerate any act that will rubbish the whole essence.

“I want to also assure Nigerians that we in the National Assembly have resolved to abide by the protocols and we will not allow anyone, no matter their position in the society, to unnecessarily endanger the lives of Nigerians.”