The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has on Wednesday, blasted the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, as well as the Police Officers and the Nigerian Air Force Officers used in arresting two Caverton Pilots, in Port Harcourt, the State capital, on Tuesday.
Governor Wike had ordered the arrest of the Pilots, and immediately arraigned them before a Rivers State Magistrates Court, for violating the Executive Order he signed in the State, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, banning all flights to the State, until further notice.
Reacting, the Aviation Minister said during the daily Covid-19 briefing, in Abuja, today, that the Pilots were given the permission by the Federal Government to fly into Rivers State.
He added that the Aviation regulation and laws remain the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, and State Governments have no right to regulate flights.
His words: “Civil Aviation is on the exclusive list, on item number 3. So, no other person except the Federal Government, has the authority to legislate upon it. So, also the Nigerian Air Force, part of the Armed Forces, is on the exclusive list. There is no other authority 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 him, who also jumped the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Air Staff and ignored them, to call a Governor, and come into the property of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Air Force to make an arrest, have exhibited dangerous ignorance and incompetence grossly.
“On whether we gave approval for the flight, yes we did, and we did so in national interest. All of those flights are for the purpose of improving the national revenue, to which Rivers State is the greatest beneficiary.
“So, those flights by Caverton, by Aero Contractors, by Bristol, and Arik, and a couple more, were for national interest.”