By Louis Ibah
Air Peace has debunked reports identifying one of its pilots, First Officer John Paul Nku, as a former militant.
Different online media reports had described Nku as one of the repentant Niger Delta agitators who benefited from the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) after a Facebook user, Mr. Wabiye Idoniboyeobu, posted pictures of the pilot and the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh.
Referring to Nku, who was the co-pilot of an Air Peace flight Boroh took to Owerri on Thursday, Idoniboyeobu had said on Facebook: “So the guy’s name is John Paul Nku. A first officer with Air Peace. Smooth flight. You need to see the look on people’s faces when the information trickled out that it was an Amnesty beneficiary in the cockpit. Everyone wanted a picture with him. Amnesty is working. Let’s give the boys a chance.”
A statement issued by the Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Chris Iwarah, however, insisted that the pilot was erroneously tagged a former militant.
Nku, the airline explained, was one of the more than 5,000 non-agitators the PAP sponsored to acquire different skills in response to the yearnings of the Niger Delta for development of its people.
Air Peace said: “On Thursday, June 29, 2017, a member of our flight crew, First Officer John Paul Nku was the co-pilot of our Abuja-Owerri service. When the flight landed in Owerri, he was introduced to the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme and Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Brig.-Gen. Paul Boroh, who was on board the flight, as one of the beneficiaries of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
“Excited, Boroh took some pictures with Nku. A Facebook user, Mr. Wabiye Idoniboyeobu later posted the pictures of the pilot and Boroh in support of his opinion that the PAP was achieving its aim of addressing the challenges of the Niger Delta.
“Unfortunately, some social media platforms latched onto Idoniboyeobu’s comments to tag Nku a former militant simply because he was identified as a beneficiary of the PAP. We, therefore, feel compelled to set the record right and correct the wrong impression being created of Nku’s personality.
“It is public knowledge that besides the more than 30,000 former militants who have reportedly benefited from the PAP, over 5,000 non-agitators from Niger Delta communities impacted by oil exploration and exploitation have been trained under the presidential project. Nku was one of the non-agitators who were fortunate to be trained by the PAP. In an interview published in Vanguard on June 15, 2016, Boroh himself confirmed the fact that ‘apart from the 30,000 (former militants), no fewer than 5000 others from oil-impacted Niger Delta communities are also being trained in top universities around the world and in Nigeria’.
“It is, therefore, improper to describe Nku as a former militant simply because he was identified as one of the beneficiaries of the PAP.”