Abuja – The Presidency on Friday refuted media reports that the Federal Government had reversed the order prohibiting helicopter flights into Abuja City centre.
A Presidential source, who preferred not to be named, gave the clarification in Abuja, saying the ‘No Fly Zone’ ban issued by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President “is still in force”.
The ban prohibits any helicopter flight into Abuja city, particularly the Three Arms Zone; military barracks, The Presidential Villa; other military establishments and the Central Business District, and around Abuja.
According to the source, there is no time did the government reverse the No Fly Zone order in Abuja.
The source said “in every country you have areas designated as `No Fly Zone’ and that is the case and Nigeria cannot be different’’.
He added that there was no time that the government lifted the `No Fly Zone’ order in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to him, the No Fly Zone ban has been there, and it is still there.
“ I think there was a misinformation as to the order.
“The true position is that Julius Berger Construction Company complained that it would be difficult for helicopters to land at the designated location at the airport claiming that such operation would delay and disrupt their work.
“The excuse they gave was that helicopter landing at the airport would disrupt their work but we have insisted that the area designated for them to land must be made available and we have settled on that.
“This is not the time for us to shut out anybody by denying them easy access to Abuja at this time the airport is closed.
“That is why we compelled Julius Berger to open up the designated helicopter landing position at the airport.
“We need investors in Nigeria at this time of our economic recession, and we must do everything to encourage them,” the source stated.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of State for Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika, had on Wednesday announced that helicopters could now fly freely in and out of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja (NAIA).
Sirika, who was fielding questions from State House correspondents, however, stated that the office of the National Security Adviser had already modified its earlier directive banning the helicopters from the NAIA.
“On the helicopter issue, the National Security Adviser has the constitutional responsibility vested on him by his Excellency Mr President to advise the president on national security matters.
He had earlier on sent out letters banning the helicopters operation into the airport but the NSA earlier this morning (Wednesday), said that helicopters would of course continue to fly to Abuja airport from wherever.
“But the National Security Adviser announced earlier this morning that helicopters will of course continue to fly to Abuja airport from wherever.
“Then the procedure that they will use to approach the airport under landing spot will be advised accordingly before the end of (Wednesday) today.
“This means that helicopters can come into Abuja and out bearing in mind that within the metropolitan city of Abuja, there are no-fly zones and this is very normal in every country.
“They have areas where there are no-fly zones but the National Security Adviser this morning approved that helicopters should enter Abuja airport in and out.
“But the procedures in which helicopters should enter into Abuja and the spot which the helicopters will land will be advised in due course and it shall be before the end of today,’’ the minister said.