Detained pilots: NATCA, NAAPE, FCAN, NUATE, others threaten to halt flights into Rivers


Abayomi Agoro, President, NATCA


…entire aviation workforce move against Gov. Wike


Posted by Sade Williams


The Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Flight Crew Association of Nigeria (FCAN), and National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) have threatened to stop all flights into and out of Rivers State if the detained pilots are not released unconditionally.


The coalition in a statement signed by Abayomi Agoro, President NATCA; Captain Robert Roland President, FCAN and Comrade Galadima Abednego, President NAAPE, drew the attention of the Government of Rivers State to the enabling Civil Aviation Act 2006 which is under the Exclusive Legislative List in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as reviewed 2011) which vested all  powers to legislate on matters relating to and regarding flights and carriage of passengers and goods by air on the Federal Government of Nigeria only.


On the strength this enactment, the coalition says no State government has power(s) to regulate any stated aviation or related matter therein.


“We write to strongly denounce the recent arrest by the Rivers State government of two pilots in the course of discharging their duties.  As professionals who are responsible for providing essential services in line with government directives and approvals granted by the appropriate authorities under the Nigerian constitution, these professionals should not be subjected to this unwarranted harassments.


“We therefore condemn in strong terms such blatant disregard to due process and executive recklessness on the part of those who are all edged to have executed these arrest”, the coalition said.


It stated that there are appropriate channels and procedures that should have been adopted in a civil and legal manner to ensure that whoever that is alleged to have contravened any laws could be sanctioned and brought to book.

“What is even more worrisome is that these pilots embarked on a flight under the approval of the relevant agency of government saddled with such responsibilities, only to be arrested without any reasonable or cogent reason in subsisting law and summarily sent to detention after court appearance and sadly remanded in Port Harcourt prison till 19th May.


“While appealing to the government of Rivers State for the release of these men, we believe this matter should have been handled with decorum and the professional courtesies it deserves.


Consequently, we find it imperative to point out that on 1, April 2020, a letter of approval with Ref no: NCAA/DG/FMA/36/19/53 ) duly signed signed by Captain Musa S. Nuhu, DG/CEO, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, was given to Caverton Helicopters Limited to provide  flight support for the oil and gas industry.


We therefore encourage the Government of Rivers State to resolve this matter expeditiously.


“It should also be noted that the coalition of FCAN, NAAPE and NATCA are willing to stop all civil flights operations into and originating from River State at short notice and for up to three months if the remanded pilots are not released forthwith and tendered an unreserved apology for making them targets”, the coalition said.


In the same vein, a statement jointly issued by the NAAPE, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP), have said it will mobilise the aviation workforce in Nigeria against the Rivers State government if it fails to release the pilots from incarceration.


The statement jointly signed by Ochème Aba, General Secretary, NUATE; Umoh Ofonime, Deputy General Secretary, NAAPE; Frances Akinjole, Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN  and Abdul Razak Saidu, Secretary General, ANAPS

Said ‘we are completely taken aback and miffed by the unwarranted and unlawful arrest and remand of two Nigerian pilots and entire passengers of an helicopter operated into the Nigerian Airforce Base in Port-Harcourt.


“It beats our imagination how Governor Wike, a lawyer, would so flagrantly discountenance the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which vests legislation and regulation of aviation matters exclusively on Federal Government, and how he could so vexatiously assume the power to invade a military base, accost aviation personnel who were on lawful national assignment and purportedly prosecute and remand innocent citizens and legal foreign workers, contrary to everything reasonable and lawful, and in such bizarre manner.


The associations wonder why the governor thinks his laws are superior to international laws on civil aviation, adding that beyond the issue of legality, it is altruistic that any restrictions on movements due to emergency situations anywhere in the world normally precludes essential services providers, as the current situation of coronavirus shows worldwide.


“We are absolutely convinced that Governor Wike’s actions in this matter are clearly inexcusable. The actions point to a personal unwholesome agenda; a ventilation of anger against undeclared adversaries.


“In the light of the above, our unions hereby demand the immediate and unconditional release from incarceration of the pilots and oil and gas workers who are presently under unlawful remand by the Rivers State Government. We in like vain demand an unqualified public apology to the personnel – pilots and passengers- and the companies involved – Caverton Helicopters and Shell Petroleum, as well as adequate recompense for the same persons and companies for personal damages and losses in revenue. Failure to meet this demands will incur the wrath of our unions and we shall have no choice than to mobilise the entire aviation community against Governor Wike and Rivers State”.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *