The Federal Government on Sunday refuted claims that the President had a hand in the grounding and outright ban of the official plane of Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi for “operating illegally in the country.”
Reacting to reports that the Presidency was in the know as touching the ban of the Rivers government aircraft last Friday, the government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, stated that such stories were mere speculation.
The General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Mr. Fan Ndubuoke, told our correspondent that the aircraft was not supposed to be in Nigeria, stressing that the Rivers State Government was aware of this fact.
He said, “I don’t know how the President will come from Aso Rock and say ‘ground this airplane’. In fact, I don’t how that will happen and I wonder why he will do that in the first place. So what we are trying to say is that it is not true.
“If the pilot or those who got the approval didn’t tell them the dates of expiration, that is their own case to handle.”
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Rivers state governor, Mr. David Iyofor, had argued that the pilot of the plane had filed his flight plan and declared his manifest, but was told to see the controller by the airspace agency.
Also, the Rivers State Government on Sunday denied flouting any aviation regulations, adding that the documentation for the aircraft was in place.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said the state government had complied with the norms regulating aviation business in Nigeria.
Semenitari explained that though the regulatory agencies were best equipped to inform the state government if there was any lapse, they (regulatory bodies) were not expected to do such through the mass media.
She said, “Just to say that all our documentation is in place and to also say that as a responsible sub-national, we have complied with the norms that regulate aviation business in Nigeria.
“We have applied formally to the honourable Minister of Aviation for the import licence. That application was received in her office in September 2012. So, we believe that all of the procedures, we have complied as best as we know.”
JD:I repeat what i had said earlier,the rivers state government should stop playing politics with this issue and go and do the right thing.it is clear to me ,even by their implied admission that the planes papers are not totally in order, otherwise what does this statement mean?”Semenitari explained that though the regulatory agencies were best equipped to inform the state government if there was any lapse, they (regulatory bodies) were not expected to do such through the mass media.”.In any case how justifiable is spending a whooping 50 million dollars on a plane in a country that has various infrastructural challenges?Whats it with planes in Nigeria now?