Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has applied the big stick on Carveton Helicopters, ordering the company out of the state.
The Governor, who declared the company’s operations unsafe, also ordered the closure of its offices for going against the state’s Executive Order to check the spread of the COVID-19 disease.
This is coming after the state government arraigned two pilots and 10 passengers of the company at a Port Harcourt Magistrate Court on Tuesday.
The pilots and the passengers were ordered remanded in custody till May 19, 2020 for the commencement of trial while also ordering Covid-19 tests on the accused to ascertain their status.
Reacting to the incidents, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had frowned at the arrests of the two pilots by Governor Wike-led administration of Rivers State
He described those who took part in the arrest as exhibiting ‘dangerous ignorance’,as it was the Federal Government that gave the pilots approval to fly.
But Wike, in a state wide broadcast on Wednesday, said: “We appreciate the need to protect business interests and operations in the state. We will do whatever is required to ensure no business is unduly affected by measures we have taken to combat the Coronavirus.
“However, we shall not welcome businesses or companies that value their activities or profit more than or in clear is disregard of lives and health of our people. Calverton Helicopters have clearly shown that Rivers lives do not matter to it. It is an enemy of Rivers people and is hereby declared persona non grata.
“With this declaration Calverton Helicopters can only choose to operate in any part of Rivers at its own risk as Local Government Chairmen have been directed to close their offices and prevent their operations.
“Their morbid intention is to create panic by pushing up infection rate to rubbish the robust measures we have since put in place to cut off spread of the virus and keep our state and citizens safe and secure from the ravaging pandemic.
“Calverton Helicopters claimed to have flown passengers into Rivers with permits from federal agencies which never bothered to take the State Government into confidence in issuing such permits in violation of our laws and containment orders.
“While federal agencies reserve the right to issue flight permits to airline operators to fly into Rivers State, we insist that the State Government must equally be informed and taken into confidence in the process.
“This is the only way to avoid suspicion, conflicts of interests and unnecessary bickering between the State and Federal Governments in our collective efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
“For us in Rivers, Covid-19 is a matter of life and death. We will never succumb to any blackmail from any person, institution or authority in our determination to protect our citizens and state from the spread of this deadly virus.”