Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Caverton Helicopters has appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to release its two pilots.
The pilots, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari, were remanded at the Port Harcourt Custodial Centre on Tuesday.
They were docked before a magistrate court.
The Court presided over by Ihua-Maduenyi adjourned the case till 19 May for commencement of trial.
The judge also ruled that COVID-19 tests be carried out on the two pilots to ascertain their status.
Governor Wike accused them of flying expatriates into Port Harcourt without the approval of his government and without ascertaining their coronavirus status.
A statement by Caverton management said:
“ At the start of the COVID -19 lockdown, we received a letter from our client stating that they have been given approval/ exemption to fly and continue operations.
We (Caverton along with three other companies) also received approval from the Minister of Aviation to fly only essential services, mainly in the Oil and Gas industry”.
“Lastly, we got another approval from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to fly for this same oil and gas sector.
“We have been flying along with these guidelines for the past seven days”.
“Today, we were informed that the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike was coming to address the operators in Port Harcourt and our people waited.
“But on arriving, the governor directed two of our pilots to be taken to CID where they were told to write statements”.
“Despite all pleas by our lawyers who showed all the relevant documents, they were taken to the magistrate court and charged.
“At the court, our lawyers also presented all the documentations approving us to fly by the federal government but the case was closed and the pilots have been remanded in Port Harcourt prison till the 19th May.”
“We appeal to the federal government to urge the Rivers State government to release our pilots who violated no law and are being unduly punished for reasons we still do not understand,” the statement said.
Wike serious about case
Wike said on Tuesday at the office of the Police Commissioner, Mustapha Dandaura,
that the protection of Rivers people was an important assignment that must be executed with the seriousness it deserved.
“I am willing to drop my immunity as a governor as far as this case is concerned . I am ready to be a prosecution witness.”
He charged the Police to prosecute the matter to its logical conclusion to serve as deterrent to those interested in violating the regulations of the state regarding the fight against coronavirus.
“I want to say this is a serious matter to us and Police should handle it seriously. That’s why I am here at the state command to show the seriousness of this issue.
“No body says that you can’t go to any state but now we are in a war situation. This Covid-19 is even worse than a conventional war.
“We want to know who are those people you brought in, so that we have to trace them to know their identity and status. Luckily we have seen the pilot and the Co-pilot. They will assist the police to assist in identifying them”