Some private jets are used for money laundering, drug trafficking, says Keyamo


Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, says some private jet owners use their aircraft for money laundering and drug trafficking.


Keyamo spoke on Thursday, during the inauguration of a ministerial task force committee on illegal private chartered operations and related matters in Abuja.


The minister said he had set a five-point agenda that would guide him and his team in discharging the mandate of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he assumed office.


He said the five-point agenda encapsulates safety, infrastructure, support for local operators, human capacity development and revenue generation.


Accordingly, he said the ministry has identified issues within the aviation industry “that we must tackle headlong”.


“It has come to my attention, through a series of disturbing reports, that the practice of illegal charter operations is thriving within the aviation industry, thereby undermining the efforts of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and other regulatory bodies,” he said.


“These illicit activities have not only resulted in significant financial losses to the Federal Government but have also raised security and safety concerns as the operations of private aircraft owners have remained largely unchecked and unregulated.”


This, Keyamo said, has also resulted in using private aircraft for other illegal activities.


“Last week, the National Security Adviser wrote to us, alerting us of the spike in money laundering, drug trafficking and other illegal activities through the use of private aircraft in the country,” the minister said.


“It appears that Private Non-Commercial Flight (PNCF) operators have become increasingly emboldened, continuing their illegal operations with the assistance of Air Operator Certificate (AOC) holders who collect tolls and list these illegal charters under their AOCs.


“We have received alarming reports that some crew members have not attended mandatory simulator trainings for nearly three years and are flying with fraudulently-obtained renewed licenses.


 “Many of these individuals are operating planes registered under PNCF but are conducting illegal charter operations with impunity.



To combat the illegal operators, the minister announced the immediate composition of a ministerial task force on illegal private charter operations and related matters.


He said some of the responsibilities of the task force include taking “inventory of all permit for non-commercial flights (PNCF) holders and air operator certificate (AOC) holders, to determine why the practice of illegal charters by PNCF holders persists in the country despite regulatory controls”.


The task force, according to the minister, was also created to “call in all professional licenses of pilots and crew in the country and determine their authenticity and validity, and to recommend to the Minister any additional measures to be taken by regulatory agencies to stem this ugly tide”.


He said the committee is expected to recommend appropriate penalties to be imposed by the regulatory agencies on defaulters and additional measures to monitor private aircraft operations in Nigeria.


The minister added that the members of the task force have been carefully selected from within the aviation industry and are people of high repute and integrity.


He named Ado Sanusi as chairman of the committee, Roland Iyayi, as vice-chairman, and acting director of air transport, aviation ministry as secretary.


Other members of the committee, he said, include Theresa Babayo, director of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA); Olayinka Oyesola, commander of the presidential air fleet; Daniel Quansah; Patrick Ogunlowo; and Obafemi Bajomo, Keyamo’s special assistant (SA).

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