The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Wednesday, attacked the Rivers State Government over the arrest of two pilots of Caverton Helicopters.
The pilots were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly violating the executive order issued by the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike to curb the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Sirika during the Presidential Taskforce briefing on COVID-19 pandemic stated that Wike was wrong to have carried out the arrests, within Federal Government-owned properties without clearance from federal authorities.
In his word: “Civil Aviation is on the exclusive list. So no other person but the Federal Government has authority to legislate upon. So also, the Nigeria Airforce is on the exclusive list. There is no other person but the Federal government that has the legal right to legislate upon.
“So the Air force officer who jumped the Commander in Chief and ignored, who also jumped the Chief of Defence Staff and ignored, as well as ignored the Chief of Air Staff, to call a governor to come into a property of the Federal Government to make an arrest has exhibited dangerous ignorance and gross incompetence”.
“The police that also followed the governor to the place to make an arrest have also exhibited dangerous ignorance from our perspective in civil aviation.”
However, the Aviation Minister insisted that their operation was indeed approved by the Federal Government as it was in line with national interest.
“Whether we gave the approval for the flight, yes we did and we did in national interest.
“All of those flights are for the purposes of improving the national revenue to which Rivers State is the greatest beneficiary.
“At a time when oil has gone below $30, and the cost of production is $30, in the wisdom of President Muhammadu Buhari, he thought that this be allowed even in this national pandemic, so that the nation will not be crippled.
“Efforts are on to get the pilots back in national interest,” Sirika added.