Gov Wike under fire for detention of Caverton pilots
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, may have bitten more than he can chew with his decision to order the arrest and detention of two Caverton Helicopter pilots in his state, on Tuesday, over what he called their flouting of the suspension of flight operations to the state over the rampaging coronavirus pandemic.
Wike had attributed his decision to the fact that he did not know the status of the people flown into the state capital by the Caverton pilots.
The decision to order for the arrest and detention of the pilots have started raising dust across the aviation sector as the governor has been accused of going beyond his boundaries in line with whose jurisdiction the country’s airspace management falls under.
Already the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, while reacting to the development in Abuja had called for the immediate release of the detained pilots declaring that aviation issues in the country were on the exclusive list of the constitution hence; “no one state governor under any guise has the right to tamper with air navigation.”
Besides the minister, the umbrella body of aircraft pilots and engineers in the country, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) has declared war on the governor with their threat to direct all pilots both local and international to boycott flying into the state now and after the lockdown should he fail to apologies and call for the immediate release of the pilots.
Similarly, a body of professionals across the sector, the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative has joined in condemning the action of the government.
According to the group; “We condemn the purported sham prosecution and trial orchestrated by the Rivers State Government at a time when courts have been placed on lockdown by the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“While we acknowledge the deadly nature of the COVID-19 currently ravaging the global community and the need for all hands to be on deck in the fight to contain its spread, we condemning totality the flagrant disregard of the authorization, approvals including exemption granted Caverton helicopters and other operators of essential services by the federal ministry of aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. These reckless actions are capable of leading to a situation of anarchy which the nation cannot afford at these challenging times.
“We, therefore, demand an immediate and unconditional release from custody of the two Caverton pilots namely: Captains Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari and a withdrawal of the charges preferred against them. Without delay.”