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A recent incident involving an “unknown aircraft” flying over the Presidential Villa in Abuja has been identified as a Max Air flight.

POLITICS NIGERIA learnt that the aircraft, which sparked panic among government officials in the capital was flying from Kano to Abuja.

“The airline mentioned in this memo was Max Air flying into Abuja from Kano,” a source disclosed.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had on Friday issued a warning to all aircraft operators after receiving a report from the Office of the National Security Adviser about an unknown aircraft flying over the Presidential Villa (DNP4).

This was, however, wrongly interpreted by many to mean a security threat, to Aso Rock, the seat of power in Nigeria.

The authority swiftly clarified that there was no threat.

According to Captain Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of Civil Aviation, the incident prompted the NCAA to reiterate critical regulations governing Nigerian airspace. He said that operating an aircraft in a prohibited or restricted area without permission is a violation of Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARS) 2023.

“No person may operate an aircraft in a prohibited area or in a restricted area, the particulars of which have been duly published, except in accordance with the conditions of the restriction or by permission of the state over whose territory the areas are established,” the directive read.

The NCAA warned that any such violation shall be liable to sanction, prosecution, or both, and the intruding aircraft may risk being met with dire consequences.

However, Capt. Najomo added that the directive was a routine reminder and not a new security measure.

He explained that sometimes planes may stray from their course due to weather or weight issues before achieving balance mid-air, which may lead to incidents like the one reported. However, he said, this does not suggest a breach of security at the Presidential Villa.

“We call it an ‘all operators letter’. It is stated clearly in the header and it is a public document on our website,” he said.

He added: “Anybody can go there to find it there. And there was nothing out of normal routine about that letter and the events that necessitated us writing it.

“So someone is coming out and presenting it as though they have carried out some investigative work, as though it’s a secret document.

“If you simply Google search, it will show that similar incidents have happened even around the White House.”