The Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ART) has demanded the release from custody of two Caverton Helicopters pilots arrested and prosecuted in Port Harcourt for breaching the law on COVID-19 restriction of movement and social distancing in Rivers State.
Spokesman for the group Olumide Ohunayo in a statement urged the Federal Government to wade into the matter and ensure the unconditional release of Captains Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari and a withdrawal of the charges preferred against them.
“The ART condemns unequivocally the actions of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and security operatives involved in the arrest, humiliation and detention in Port Harcourt of two Caverton Helicopters pilots.
“While we noted and acknowledge the deadly nature of the coronavirus currently ravaging the global community and the need for all hands to be on deck in the fight to contain its spread, we condemn in totality, the flagrant disregard of the authorisation, approvals including exemption granted Caverton Helicopters and other operators of essential services by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. These reckless actions are capable of leading to a situation of anarchy which the nation cannot afford at these challenging times.
“We also urge all aviation operators granted dispensation to carry out essential services to collaborate and support the efforts of their host state governments in the bid to contain the scourge of Covid-19. ART equally urges the federal authorities to guard against possible abuse of the exemptions and approvals of flights in order not to erode the efficacy of the efforts of those charged with the containment of the spread of COVID -19 and the violation of the lockdown imposed in their various areas of responsibility,” Ohunayo said.