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Pilots arrest: Aviation unions berate Wike’s action, deliberate effort to cause public chaos, economic sabotage

Aviation unions

Unions in the Aviation Industry have described the unlawful detention of two caverton helicopters pilots as national economic sabotage and a deliberate effort to cause public chaos.

The unions in a statement say they are,” absolutely convinced that Governor Wike’s actions point to a personal unwholesome agenda; a ventilation of anger against undeclared adversaries.”

In a joint statement signed by the Secretary General, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP, Comrade Abdul Razak Saidu, General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Comrade Ochème Aba, Deputy  General Secretary, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE , Umoh Ofonime, Deputy General Secretary,  Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association, ATSSSAN, Frances Akinjole, notes that the aviation unions and representatives of aviation workers  are completely taken aback and miffed by the unwarranted and unlawful arrest and remand of two Nigerian pilots and entire passengers of an helicopter operated into the Nigerian Airforce Base in Portharcourt.

“The arrest was affected personally by the Governor of Rivers State, HE, Nyesom Wike on the ground that the personnel violated his State’s order prohibiting movement of persons. But, the flight was a special operation approved by all relevant government agencies, including the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in full compliance with the provisions of the Federal Government order on restrictions of movement following the COVID-19 pandemic.

They therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release from incarceration of the pilots and oil and gas workers who are presently under unlawful remand by the Rivers State Government.

“We in like vain demand an unqualified public apology to the personnel – pilots and passengers- and the companies involved – Caverton Helicopters and Shell Petroleum, as well as adequate recompense for the same persons and companies for personal damages and losses in revenue.”

According to the union leaders, failure to meet their demands will incur the wrath of the unions and they will have no choice than to mobilise the entire aviation community against Governor Wike and Rivers State Government at the appropriate time, at the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It beats our imagination how Governor Wike, a lawyer, would so flagrantly discountenance the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which vests legislation and regulation of aviation matters exclusively on Federal Government, and how he could so vexatiously assume the power to invade a military base, accost aviation personnel who were on lawful national assignment and purportedly prosecute and remand innocent citizens and legal foreign workers, contrary to everything reasonable and lawful, and in such bizarre manner.”

Beyond the issue of legality, it is altruistic that any restrictions on movements due to emergency situations anywhere in the world normally preclude essential services providers, as the current situation of coronavirus shows worldwide. In Nigeria, nothing is more essential than oil and gas services. To impede production of oil and gas, as Wike’s action has done, is to dangerously touch the very nerve centre of Nigeria’s national economy. Of course this has compounded complications capable of grinding electricity supply in the country to a halt, as well as precipitating a transportation crisis.

“Governor Wike has said that he took the actions based on his own law as the Governor of the State prohibiting movements in the State. Does it mean his own order does not preclude essential services providers? If yes, then what was he, himself, doing on the road then? What were the policemen and other aids with him on the day doing on the roads? What business did the conscripted Magistrate have in the court on the day? This is most perplexing, to say the least.”

“It most unbecoming for a high ranking government official of the status of

a governor of a state to be precipitating constitutional crisis, sabotaging national interest, harassing innocent citizens and workers, and creating a major distraction at a time such as this when forging synergies and aligning forces are direly required to defeat the common enemy of coronavirus. All people of good conscience and patriotism must, therefore be united in condemnation of this malfeasance by Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State,”, the statement concluded.


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