Two Helicopter Pilots Arrested, Arraigned in Port Harcourt

Governor Nyesom Wike


By- Divine-Favour Efemena 

Two helicopter pilots were arrested by the Rivers State government for violating its lockdown and restriction of movement in the state. It was gathered that the pilots work with CALVERTON, a private helicopter company in Nigeria.

They were said to have flown 10 persons believed to be oil workers into Port Harcourt, thereby contravening the lockdown order by the state government that has earlier ordered the closure of all airport, seaports, markets including work places. In a televised broadcast to the state, Governor Nysom Wike said the bringing of the 10 persons to the state showed that it could be a conspiracy to bring persons who are infected with the disease in order to swell the cases of Covid-19 in a state with just 2 cases and the manner in which they came was suspicious. They were accused of landing in the state without landing permit. The two pilots were immediately arraigned in a customary court in Port Harcourt and have been remanded in Port Harcourt Correction Centre. The trial will be on 19th of May.

However, in a swift reaction, the federal government through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, faulted the state governor and security agents in the state for the arrest and subsequent arraignment of the pilots. He made it known that aviation matters are the exclusive of the federal government while faulting the Air Force Commander and Commissioner of Police in Rivers State for allowing Governor Wike access to federal government facility.

According to the Minister, only the federal government has right to either close or control any airport in the country referring to the ugly development as “DANGEROUS IGNORANCE” from all the parties involved. Adding that the federal government will do what it can to secure the release of the two pilots including the 10 passengers. The 10 persons are also to be detained in government facility where they will be isolated so as to ascertain their Covid-19 status after being tested. Some political watchers have opined that if the issue is not well managed could lead to power tussle between the state and federal government.

Oil workers have also threatened to down tools if the pilots and 10 passengers are not released.




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