Caverton Helicopters has condemned the arrest and imprisonment of two of its pilots, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari, for allegedly contravening the lockdown order issued by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus in the state. Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate Court on Tuesday remanded the two pilots in prison custody till May 19, for allegedly disobeying the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor aimed at checking the spread of coronavirus in the state.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the aircraft called for the release of its pilots, stating that the federal government gave the aircraft permission to continue flight operations for the oil and gas sector.
The statement stated that the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) gave the aircraft approval backed by relevant documents.
It, however, asked the federal government to prevail on the Rivers state government to release its pilots immediately.
The statement read: “At the start of the COVID -19 lockdown, we received a letter from our client stating that they have been given approval/ exemption to fly and continue operations. We (Caverton along with three other companies) also received approval from the Minister of Aviation to fly only essential services, mainly in the Oil and Gas industry.
“Lastly, we got another approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to fly for this same oil and gas sector. We have been flying along these guidelines for the past seven days.
“Today, we were informed that the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike was coming to address the operators in Port Harcourt and our people waited. But on arriving, the governor directed two of our pilots to be taken to CID where they were told to write statements.
“Despite all pleas by our lawyers who showed all the relevant documents, they were taken to the magistrate’s court and charged. At the court, our lawyers also presented all the documentations approving us to fly by the federal government but the case was closed and the pilots have been remanded in Port Harcourt prison till the 19th May.
“We appeal to the federal government to urge the Rivers State government to release our pilots who violated no law and are being unduly punished for reasons we still do not understand.”