Pilots Arrest: Aviation Unions Join Forces To Fight Wike, Rivers State Government
…Says Governor’s Action Clearly Inexcusable, A Ventilation Of Anger Against Undeclared Adversaries
Unions in the aviation industry have agreed to mobilise the entire aviation community against Governor Wike and Rivers State Government at the appropriate time if he fails to unconditionally release the two Caverton pilots and other oil and gas workers that were arrested and detained by River State Governor Nyesom Wike at Air Force Military Base in Port Harcourt.
This is just as the unions warned Wike not to regard their threat as an empty one.
The unions comprising of the National Union of Air Transport Employees(NUATE) , National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers(NAAPE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association(ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals( ANAP) made their demands known in statement titled, “Unlawful Incarceration of Essential Services Workers” and signed by the General Secretary, NUATE, Ochème Aba, Deputy General Secretary, NAAPE , Umoh Ofonime, Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Frances Akinjole and the Secretary General, ANAP, *Abdul Razak Saidu
The unions demanded for 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.
They stated categorically that failure to meet this demands would “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.”
The statement reads, “As aviation unions and representatives of aviation workers, we 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 Air Force Base in Port Harcourt.
“The arrest was effected personally by the Governor of Rivers State, 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.
“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 of movements due to emergency situations anywhere in the world normally precludes essential services providers, as the current situation of Coronavirus shows worldwide.”
The unions argued that in Nigeria, nothing is more essential than oil and gas services, adding that 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.
Wike’s action, the workers representatives further contended has compounded complications capable of grinding electricity supply in the country to a halt, as well as precipitating a transportation crisis.
Governor Wike’s actions in the above respect, the unions pointed out tantamount to national economic sabotage and a deliberate effort to cause public chaos.
The unions are craving to know if Governor Wike’s argument that he took the actions based on his own law as the Governor of the State prohibiting movements in the State 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.
“We are absolutely 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 COVID-19. “All people of good conscience and patriotism must, therefore be united in condemnation of this malfeasance by Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State.”