The Federal Government has said the Air Force Commander in Port Harcourt, who invited Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to arrest Caverton Helicopter pilots, and passengers on board the concerned flight; the Police Commissioner who accompanied Governor Wike; and the Military Commander, who all collaborated with the Governor, usurped the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this in reaction to the arrest, prosecution and remand of the two Pilots; Samuel Buhari and Samuel Ugorji while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
Sirika said they the Service Commanders acted in gross disobedience to the President, exhibited dangerous ignorance and gross incompetence.
Sirika said while necessary approvals were given to Carveton to fly, the aviation sector is on the exclusive list and Governor Wike had no right to enter the premises of Carveton.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika also said the Federal Government would take all Legal measures to secure the release of the jailed Pilots, adding that Caverton and other cleared airlines would continue their operation.
“Civil Aviation is on the Exclusive List so no other organ than the Federal government has the authority to legislate upon it.
“For the Airforce Officers who jumped the Commander in Chief and ignored, who also jumped the Chief of Defence Staff and ignored, who jumped the Chief of Air Staff and ignored to call the Governor to come into the property of the Federal government and the premises of the Nigerian Airforce has exhibited dangerous ignorance and incompetence grossly.
“The Police that also followed the Governor to make the arrest also exhibited dangerous ignorance.
“Yes, we gave the approvals and we did it in National interest. All those flights are for the purpose of improving the national revenues which Rivers state is the greatest beneficiary.
“At a time oil has gone below $30 and the cost of production is $30 and in the wisdom of President Muhammadu Buhari he thought that this be allowed even in this national pandemic so the nation will not be crippled and national revenue will not be lost. It is against this background that we have the authority and being on the Exclusive List that we have the powers in Civil Aviation to approve such flights.
“Those flights were approved lawfully, legally and correct. So, we will do everything lawfully and correct to get those Pilots back and operations will continue in national interest.
Chief Magistrate D.D . Ihua-Maduenyi of a Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt remanded the two pilots of Carveton Helicopters after they were charged with four counts of disobedience to lawful order for violating the Executive Order of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The two pilots; Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari will remain in prison custody till May 19, 2020 when their trial will commence.