AVIATION unions in unison have revealed plans to mobilize the entire aviation community against the Rivers State Government and its Governor, Nyeesom Wike unless the state government backtracks on the alleged unlawful arrest of two pilots from Caverton Helicopters on essential duty on April 7, 2020.
The unions are also demanding a 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.
National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professional (ANAP) made this known in a letter jointly signed to press home their demands.
The unions who made their points known said they were taken aback and miffed by the unwarranted and unlawful arrest and remand of two Nigerian pilots of Caverton Helicopters, Samuel Urgoji and Samuel Buhari and entire passengers that operated into the Nigerian Air force Base in Port Harcourt.
“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.
The groups were perplexed as to how a lawyer would disregard the constitution in an unlawful manner and detain essential services providers.
“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.
“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. Therefore, Governor Wike’s action in the above respect is tantamount to national economic sabotage and a deliberate effort to cause public chaos.”
The unions further stated that they were convinced that Governor Wike’s actions in this matter are clearly inexcusable.
“The actions point to a personal unwholesome agenda; a ventilation of anger against undeclared adversaries. And we find 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.
“In the light of the above, our unions hereby 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. Failure to meet these demands will incur the wrath of our unions and we shall 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.”
“This is not an empty threat, “ the unions said.