The Comptroller General of Customs, Hamid Ali, was spotted on Tuesday flying first class on a British Airways flight from London to Abuja, in clear violation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive banning public officials from flying first class.
The flight, BA83 which took off from Gate 43 of Heathrow Terminal 5, London, on Tuesday, nearly an hour behind its scheduled 10.43pm departure time, arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday morning at about 5a.m, with Ali on board.
The reasons for Ali’s travel to London remained unknown as at the time of publishing this report but customs insiders said the trip was official.
“It was a major talking point among some passengers whether the policy barring public officials from flying first class is being implemented with exceptions or whether it is meant for the shelves,” one passenger on the flight said.
A first class ticket to and from London costs $11,423.23 (about N3.4million).
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun issued a circular to all government agencies recently barring top officials from travelling first class.
The measure was to cut the high cost of travelling by public officials, Mrs. Adeosun said.
The minister said even travels with Business Class tickets remained strictly restricted to only ministers, permanent secretaries, chairmen of Federal government committees as well as chairmen and chief executives of parastatals and agencies.
She said the measure was part of the recommendations by the Efficiency Unit of her ministry to cut travel expenditure by about 20 per cent.
The recommendations were as a result of the review of the provisions of some extant government circulars on overhead expenses on official travels, the minister said.
The review was carried out in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF).
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