THE controversies surrounding the grounding of a Bombardier jet belonging to the Rivers State government have taken a fresh turn, as sources within the National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) revealed that the embattled governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi, would have to pay a total sum of $320,000, about N51.2 million, to the agency for the 16 days its pilot contravened the aviation laws.
According to findings by Sunday Tribune, for violating the airspace regulation for 16 days, the Rivers State government would part with a $20,000 per day fine.
But a source within the state government disclosed that NAMA’s position about payment of fine was entirely new to the government, saying: “We are not aware of any fine, neither has the state government been officially briefed. Whenever NAMA briefs us officially on the issue, we will know what to do.”
According to the sources, NAMA would not have grounded the plane if the pilot had signed the passenger manifest, stating that it was after the grounding of the plane by NAMA that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) noticed that the plane had registration issues, even as they noted that the grounded plane would be released by the agency as soon as the owner paid the fine.
However, the sources revealed that NAMA was only concerned with the violation of the airspace regulation, saying the payment of the fine would not stop the NCAA from carrying out its duties as regarding the grounded plane.
It will be recalled that accusations have flown back and forth over the grounding of the plane, with Rivers State government alleging that politics was behind the action by NAMA in Akure, Ondo State, when the state governor went for the burial programme of the late deputy governor of Ekiti State, Mrs Funmi Olayinka, penultimate Friday, while NAMA denied the allegation, saying the pilot violated aviation regulations.