FG threatens to prosecute Rivers State Govt for forgery over Gov. Amaechi's plane

The face-off over the registration or otherwise of a Bombadier aircraft owned by the Rivers State government took a twist on Thursday with the Federal Government threatening to prosecute Rivers for forgery.

Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, said in a statement that the clearance documents used by the aircraft had been discovered to be forged, threatening that the state government would be prosecuted for the action which the minister said amounted to a violation of the nation’s aviation laws as well as other extant criminal laws of the land.

The statement issued on behalf of the minister by her Special Assistant, Media, Joe Obi, reads in part, 

“The presentation of false information or forged documentation to regulatory authorities in the processing of official approvals or permits is clearly a serious violation of the Civil Aviation Act, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations and other extant criminal laws in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Upon conclusion of these internal investigations, the Ministry will take all necessary steps required by law.”

The aviation minister alleged that the flight clearance documents used by the aircraft might have been forged because Caverton Helicopters, whose name appeared on the clearance documents, had denied doing so in a letter to the Federal Government.

According to her, the NCAA had discovered that the aircraft was operating illegally within the Nigerian airspace.

Specifically, she said it was revealed that the aircraft did not have a valid flight clearance for its operations on April 26, 2013 when it was grounded in Akure as the last purported clearance obtained for the aircraft expired on April 2, 2013.

The imbroglio over the Rivers State aircraft has generated a bitter controversy since it was briefly grounded in Akure last week with politics being read into the issue.

On Monday, the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State queried Governor Rotimi Amaechi over the matter. The governor said the query was “sad and laughable.”

On Tuesday, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree, raised the alarm that the Felix Obuah-led PDP exco had perfected a plot to impeach Ameachi using the unsuspended five members of the House to carry out the impeachment and thus causing confusion in the state.

Twenty-seven, out of the 32 members of the Rivers assembly, had been suspended on Monday by the Obuah-led exco but a court on Tuesday revoked the suspension.