Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, says aviation matters are on the exclusive list of the federal government, faulting the order of Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, that two pilots of Caverton Helicopters should be arrested.
The governor had accused Caverton Helicopter of violating the lockdown order imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
After their arrest, the pilots were subsequently arraigned at a magistrate’s court and remanded in prison till May.
The airline had kicked against the remand of the pilots, saying aviation authorities granted it the permission to fly into Rivers state.
At a press briefing organised by the presidential task force on COVID-19, Sirika corroborate the position of Caverton Helicopters, accusing the security operatives who arrested the pilots on the governor’s order of “displaying ignorance”.
He vowed that the federal government would do every thing legally possible to secure the release of the pilots.
“Civil aviation is on exclusive list; item number three there. So, no other person but the federal government has the authority to legislate upon. So also that of the Armed Forces also on the exclusive list. There’s no other person but the federal government that has the legal right to legislate upon,” he said.
“So, the air force officer who jumped the commander-in-chief and ignored; who also jumped the chief of defence staff and ignored; who jumped the chief of air staff and ignored to call a governor to come into the property of the federal government to … make an arrest has exhibited dangerous ignorance and incompetence, grossly. So, the police that followed the governor to go in there has also exhibited dangerous ignorance from our perspective in civil aviation.
“Whether we gave 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.”