Presidency Reacts As Unknown Aircraft Flies Above Aso Rock Unrestricted

The office of the National Security Adviser, led by Nuhu Ribadu, has issued a stern warning to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) following reports of an unknown aircraft flying unrestricted over Aso Rock, a highly restricted area. This incident has raised significant security concerns and prompted immediate action from the authorities.

According to a memo obtained by Naturenex, released by award-winning investigative journalist David Hundeyin, the National Security Adviser’s office has warned that any aircraft violating the airspace above Aso Rock will face strict sanctions. The memo emphasises the critical nature of adhering to airspace restrictions, especially over the presidential villa.

David Hundeyin, reacting to the memo, recounted an incident from the previous year during his Cambridge Fellowship. He shared an unsettling anecdote from a speaking event in London where a British Airways pilot, who used to fly regularly between London Heathrow (LHR) and Abuja (ABV), remarked on the vulnerability of Nigerian airspace. The pilot joked about the possibility of a civilian aircraft carrying out an airstrike on Aso Villa undetected, highlighting the lack of primary radar coverage in Nigeria since 2021.

Hundeyin pointed out that without primary radar, any aircraft in Nigerian airspace can turn off its transponder, making it invisible to Nigerian air traffic controllers.

This situation poses a significant risk, as aircraft smuggling illicit goods or engaging in nefarious activities could easily evade detection. Recently, some of these illegal flights have even ventured into the restricted airspace above the presidential villa in Abuja.

The official letter from the National Security Adviser to the NCAA, dated 16th April 2024, underscores the seriousness of the situation. It references Part of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARS) 2023, which prohibits unauthorised aircraft operations in restricted areas. The letter warns that violations will be met with sanctions, prosecution, or both, and that intruding aircraft may face severe consequences.

The memo, signed by Captain Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of Civil Aviation, calls on all aircraft operators to ensure their crews obtain thorough weather briefings before flights and adhere strictly to air traffic control (ATC) instructions to avoid entering restricted or prohibited areas. The directive is aimed at preventing future breaches and ensuring the security of Nigerian airspace, particularly over sensitive locations like Aso Rock.

The Nigerian government’s swift response to this security breach underscores the importance of maintaining stringent airspace regulations and highlights the ongoing challenges in securing national airspace.


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