Governor Amaechi/Rivers State Govt denies operating aircraft illegally

The Rivers State government said it has not been formally notified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on the grounding of Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s Bombardier jet indefinitely but denied operating the aircraft illegally.

The NCAA had announced the grounding of the jet at the Port Harcourt airport for operating illegally in a press briefing by Mrs Joyce Nkemakolam,its Acting Director General.

However, in her reaction on behalf of the State Government,the Rivers state Commissioner for information and communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari told newsmen in Port Harcourt on Sunday that government was awaiting formal communication from the regulatory agency.

"As we speak, all I have is information that I have gleaned from the media. All we have as a government is that information. No formal communication has reached us in Rivers state government. We believe that it will be best that we await formal communication from the regulatory agency.

"Just to say that all our documentation is in place. And to also say that as a responsible government, we have complied with the norms that regulate aviation business in Nigeria.n We have applied formally to the honourable minister of aviation for the import license. That application was received in her office in Sept. 2012.

"So, we believe that all of the procedure, we have complied as best as we know. However, we do understand that the regulatory agencies are best equipped to tell us if they think there is any lapse and we will expect that the communication will come to us formally and not through the mass media. We believe that we are obligated to comply with all the regulations that govern the aviation business in Nigeria. We are a responsible government and we will not defy the regulatory agencies," the Information Commissioner said.

Mrs. Joyce Nkemakolam, Acting Director General of NCAA, had announced the grounding of the aircraft indefinitely on Saturday alleging that the plane had been operating illegally.

According to Acting DG,NCAA,“The controversial aircraft on the service of Governor Rotimi Amaechi is operating illegally in the country” . The aircraft, a Bombardier BD-700, global express with registration N565 RS has its clearance approval expired since Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013.”

However, observers are of the opinion that the grounding of the aircraft cannot be far from politics as Governor Amaechi has been at daggers-drawn with President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan’s supporters have accused Amaechi of not supporting Jonathan’s ambition to run for second tenure in 2015.

Recently, the Peoples Democratic Party,State Executive loyal to Amaechi was sacked and replaced by an another group loyal to the Jonathan pointsmen.