Groups of journalists, human rights activists and mourners were today unable to attend the burial of Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s wife in Auchi due to what is locally referred to as “Presidential movement” by air traffic operatives.
That invariably means that a presidential jet is in the area or is expected in the area. Today, it meant that the planes conveying prospective mourners who were eager to say farewell to Clara Oshiomhole were not allowed to land in Benin.
One particular flight carrying civil rights attorney Femi Falana; Abiodun Aremu of the United Action for Democracy (UAD); Louis Odion, a journalist; and Odion Sylvester Akhaine, a political activist and academic and his wife, had to return to Lagos after it almost ran out of fuel as it hovered over the skies for 35 minutes, refused permission to land.
The Arik Air flight left Lagos for Benin at about 10: 00a.m. local time, after delays occasioned by unfavorable weather conditions. It arrived in Benin City airspace 30 minutes after departure from the local wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos.
After hovering in the air for 35 minutes the Arik air pilot told the air traffic controller on the ground that he was running out of fuel, but they were still denied the opportunity to land.
The pilot then informed the passengers that it would be dangerous to keep hovering in the air as no one could tell how long the hold would be; he then turne the plane around and returned to Lagos.
It was not known how many other aircraft suffered the same fate in the hands of the air traffic controllers.
Nigeria’s “presidential movement” orders are widely known to greatly endanger aircraft movement as they usually happen without notice to pilots.