Minister to Wike: You lack power to invade airport, arrest chopper crew, passengers

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The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has carpeted the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, over the arrest of two pilots of Caverton Helicopters by the Rivers State Government.

Sirika said this during the briefing on Wednesday by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He said it was wrong for the state government to have carried out the arrests within Federal Government-owned properties without clearance from federal authorities and with the aid of federal institutions.

He said: “Civil Aviation is on exclusive list.
“So no other person but the Federal Government has authority to legislate upon it.
“So also, the Nigeria Air Force is on exclusive list.
“There is no other person, but the Federal Government that has the legal right to legislate upon it.
“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.”
Sirika said the flight operated by Caverton Helicopters was approved by the Federal Government as it was in line with national interest.

He said: “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.

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“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.”

The pilots were arrested on Tuesday.
They were subsequently arraigned and ordered detained in a correctional facility in the state.