The House of Representatives, yesterday, cleared the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi of any offence in the operations of the state-owned Bombadier B700 Global Express jet and indicted the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, for illegally grounding the Rivers State owned aircraft.
The verdict was delivered when it considered and adopted report of its joint committee on justice and aviation on the urgent need to investigate the justification and circumstances surrounding the controversial grounding of Rivers State Government Bombadier B700 Global Express aircraft last April.
Briefing the committee of the whole House presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, chairman of the committee, Rep Ali Ahmad (PDP, Kwara) explained that the allegations on which the NCAA based its actions on grounding the aircraft were false. He said the aircraft was registered in the US and the committee also found out that over 70 per cent of private jets in the country were registered abroad.
While adopting the recommendations, the House requested the attorney-general and minister of justice to consider prosecuting Caverton Helicopters for misleading the NCAA to illegally ground the aircraft.
The House noted that “for providing information that led the authorities to wrongly believe that Rivers State Government falsified documents thereby leading to grounding of its aircraft, the Attorney-General is requested to consider prosecuting Caverton Helicopters under the provisions of section 36 (4) Civil Aviation Act. C13, 2004”
It was also resolved that “the Rivers State Government should be allowed to comply with the necessary conditions for granting of all required permits and licences of Rivers State-owned Bombadier B700 Global Express with registration number N565Rs”
It urged the ministry of aviation to desist from undue interference in the day to day operations of the aviation regulatory authorities as envisaged by the law.
It equally asked the aviation regulatory authorities to operate professionally and ensure compliance with international best practices in the industry”
It will be recalled that the Rivers State-owned private jet was grounded in April, 2013 by the NCAA.
However, NCAA in a statement said that “By our records, the last flight clearance for this aircraft was approved for operation on Thursday, March 28, 2013 on Accra—PH–Accra and to terminate on April 2, 2013. With this development, the aircraft has exceeded the extra two days or 48 hours leeway for it to leave the country.
“While still operating illegally, the aircraft has been sighted in several places including Owerri and Akure. The owner of this aircraft according to the Certificate of Registration is Bank of Utah Trustee of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
“The clearance for the aircraft was sought by Caverton Helicopters on March 27, 2013. Consequently, this aircraft in reference is hereby grounded at any airport that is located right now in the country.”