A coalition of civil aviation professionals on Thursday threatened to stop flight operations in Rivers State for up to three months if the two arrested Caverton pilots were not released “unconditionally and forthwith”.
The body, which comprised the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association and Flight Crew Association of Nigeria, maintained that Capt Samuel Buhari and Capt Samuel Ugorji were “acting in capacity of the Federal Government to keep the economy of the nation running” when they were arrested by a security team led by Governor Nyesom Wike on Tuesday at Port Harcourt Military Base.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had said the pilots got the Federal Government’s authorisation to operate the said flight into Port Harcourt.
In a statement co-signed by NAAPE President, Galadima Abednego; NATCA President, Abayomi Agoro and FCAN President, Capt Robert Roland, the body alleged Wike of misusing executive powers.
The statement read in part, “It should be noted that the coalition of FCAN, AAPE and NATCA are willing to stop all civil flights operations into and originating from Rivers State at short notice and for up to three months if the remanded pilots are not released forthwith and tendered an unreserved apology for making them targets.
“We view this action as blatant violation of their individual rights, usurpation of powers and wrongful exercise of enabling status.
“Apart from being particularly concerned about the flagrant misuse of executive powers as exhibited by the Government of Rivers State without recourse to the subsisting legislation under which the arrested pilots undertake their professional assignments, we are also gravely concerned about the welfare of these pilots and their dependants back home who, no doubt, must have been in intense psychological stress.
“We, therefore, through this medium, urge the relevant Federal Government authorities to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of these pilots who have been subjected to this unwarranted punishment not known to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”