COVID-19: Wike orders arrest of 2 pilots who violated lockdown order
- Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state ordered the arrest of two pilots working for a logistics company
- The two pilots were arrested on Tuesday, April 7, at the Nigerian Air Force base in Port Harcourt, Rivers state
- According to Wike, the pilots violated the state's lockdown order by flying in expatriates into Rivers state
Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike on Tuesday, April 7, ordered the arrest of two helicopter pilots who violated the lockdown order by flying in expatriates after all routes leading to the state were closed.
Their arrest is coming after the state government issued an Executive Order closing all borders to curb the spread of coronavirus in the south-south state.
According to Channels TV, the two pilots have been remanded in prison by a Port Harcourt magistrate court. The governor further said he is willing to testify against anyone who disobeys the state’s border closure regulations.
The pilots were operating essential oil and gas services, as approved by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)’s notice to airmen, according to the Flight Crew Association of Nigeria.
In another report by Premium Times, the Rivers state governor revealed why he ordered the arrest of two pilots.
The men, a pilot, and co-pilot for a logistics company were arrested by the police at the Nigerian Air Force base in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, on the orders of Wike.
Wike revealed that the pilots “illegally” flew a helicopter belonging to a company and transported expatriates into the state. The governor had disclosed this when he met Mustapha Dandaura, the state commissioner of police in Rivers, over the arrest of the pilots
The governor in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Simeon Nwakaudu, was quoted saying:
“Nobody says that you can’t go to any state but now we are in a war situation. This COVID-19 is even worse than a conventional war. We want to know who are those people you brought in, so that we have to trace them to know their identity and status. Luckily we have seen the pilot and the co-pilot. They will assist the police in identifying them."
The helicopter company who reacted to the arrest of their pilots in a statement said its client, as well as, itself had the approval/exemption to fly and continue operations in the oil and gas industry.
The company appealed to the federal government to ask the Rivers state government to release their pilots who according to them, have violated no law and were unduly punished.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the Rivers government in a move to check the spread of coronavirus within the state announced that all routes leading into the state such as air, sea, and land will be closed to traffic, beginning 6 pm, on Thursday, March 26.
This was revealed on Wednesday, March 25, by the state governor in a broadcast. He said that preventive measures had become necessary in light of recent developments in the country.
Similarly, the capital city of Rivers state, Port Harcourt, is under lockdown as Governor Wike imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in some parts of the city.
Residents in some parts of Port Harcourt were forced off the streets on Tuesday, March 31, by security personnel who are enforcing the governor's directive.
People who went out as early as 6am were driven back by security personnel in some parts of the city. Some residents in the affected areas told NAN that they woke up to see that stern-looking security personnel had taken over their streets.
In other news, Rivers state House of Assembly lawmakers have announced they will support the state government in tackling COVID-19 with one month's salary.
The speaker of the house, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, disclosed on Wednesday, April 1, that all the 32 members of the 9th assembly collectively agreed to donate their salaries to boost the state's anti-COVID-19 efforts.
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