The Federal Government on Friday declared that the pilots of Caverton Helicopters who were arrested and detained on Tuesday in Rivers State by the state government will be released soon without any conviction.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika condemned the act and said that the Military commander at the Nigerian Air force base and Police in Rivers State who arrested the pilots in the Military base all acted ignorantly and out of incompetence.
Hadi Sirika, disclosed this at the daily briefing on COVID-19 updates while responding to a question on the matter.
He said, “The pilots were carrying out national assignment because the speech by the SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) and the presidential address exempted oil and gas from the lockdown or shutdown in national interest.
“And these Caverton Helicopters’ pilots were flying into the military base on national assignment.”
He added, “Of course, I may not be learned but I am lettered and I understand, in this case there is no conflict between the federal and the state laws, but I will not argue that on this platform. It is unnecessary.
“So whether the governor of Rivers State ought to know if the exempted Caverton flight will be landing in a military base in Port Harcourt belonging to the Nigerian Air Force, he does not need to know.”
Sirika stressed that as far as the Federal Government had cleared the aircraft to land at the air base, the flight was supposed to land whether the governor knew about it or not.
He said, “So that is answer number one. Answer number two regarding the pilots, the pilots will soon be released, rescued and there will not be any conviction hanging on their necks.”
The minister said, “And arising from the constitutional provision and the powers of Mr. President, the seriousness of this task force, the danger of COVID-19 , the way we operate civil aviation and military aviation, that’s why I said the air force officer acted ignorantly to have called the governor when the chopper landed on his property.
“And also the federal police who made the arrest within the premises of the military acted ignorantly as well. And I said they exhibited incompetence.”