The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has vowed to investigate the alleged breach of airport protocols by some dignitaries led by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa state.
The Minister said if the individuals were found guilty, they are likely to be imprisoned for not less than two months.
According to Sirika, so far, three dignitaries have been alleged to have flouted airport protocols.
They are Adamawa Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, ex- Zamfara Governor Abdulaziz Yari and a newspaper publisher.
Reacting to the development, Sirika said: “The Ministry has received lots of inquiries regarding some unruly passengers.
“Those are being investigated and if it is found that it is true, we will do the needful and if found untrue, we will definitely apologise to these individuals.”
On some of the sanctions or likely punishment if found guilty, the Minister quoted some regulations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
He said: “I will like to go through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority regulations. There is a definition of an unruly passenger. There are unruly passengers and we have a protocol to deal with them.
“In part 17 (97) i: any passenger who becomes unruly at the airport terminal building or onboard a particular aircraft commits an offence. So, first, it is an offence. Part 17(97) ii further defines unruly and I will just choose two out of the many definitions. Fighting or other disorderly conduct on board of an aircraft or in the terminal building which means in the vicinity of an airport or inside an aircraft.
“Unruly behavior also means disobedience of lawful instructions issued by the aircraft commander which is the captain, or flight crew, cabin crew, cabin attendants, check-in staff, screening staff or any lawful staff on lawful duty at the airport.
“So, if you refuse their instructions, you have become an unruly passenger and an unruly passenger according to table 29(51) requires the punishment of criminal referral for imprisonment for not less than two months.”
He continued: “So, it can be ten years. The regulation says of not less than two months. So, if you are found to be an unruly passenger because you are a big man, VIP, the simplest thing that we could do is to refer you to the police and they must by law prosecute you regardless and it will not be less than two months and I am sure you won’t want to be a criminal for one day or one second.
“We cannot afford the unruliness of passengers because of the security and health implication and we must be reminded that airports are national security assets.
“The weight and responsibility to keep airports safe either by health protocols or our own security is definitely enormous. We are equal to the task and whoever is involved will be dealt with.
“Certainly, we are equipped with cameras in our airports and we can pick everybody. We will take the matter seriously, we will investigate and once we find the individuals guilty, they will be prosecuted.”