Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The House of Representatives on Wednesday absolved the governor of Rivers State, Hon. Rotimi Chibike Amaechi, of any infraction in the operations of the state-owned Bombardier B700 Global Express jet.
Giving the verdict during the consideration and adoption of the report of its joint committee on justice and aviation on the urgent need to investigate the justification and circumstances surrounding the controversial grounding of the Rivers State government-owned aircraft last April, the House did not only indict the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for illegally grounding the aircraft, but also demanded the prosecution of Caverton Helicopters for misleading NCAA to illegally ground the aircraft.
Hon. Ali Ahmad, chairman of the Committee on Justice, while briefing the Committee of the Whole, explained that the allegations on which the NCAA based its actions on grounding the aircraft were false.
Ahmad, who said that the aircraft was registered in the US, revealed that his committee also found out that over 70 percent of private jets in the country was registered abroad.
Chaired by the deputy speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Committee of the Wholein adopting the recommendations, said “for providing information that led the authorities to wrongly believe that Rivers State government falsified documents thereby leading to grounding of its aircraft, the Hon. Attorney general is requested to consider prosecuting Caverton Helicopters under the provisions of section 36 (4) Civil Aviation Act. C13, 2004.”
The House also resolved that “the Rivers State government should be allowed to comply with the necessary conditions for granting of all required permits and licences of Rivers State-owned Bombadier B700 Global Express Registration Number N565Rs.”
It also urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation to desist from undue interference in the day to day operations of the aviation regulatory authorities as envisaged by the law, while further urging the aviation regulatory authorities to operate professionally and ensure compliance with international best practices in the industry.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State-owned private was grounded in April, 2013 by the NCAA.
Then, a statement from the NCAA read: “By our records, the last flight clearance for this aircraft was approved for operation on Thursday, March 28, 2013 on Accra—PH–Accra and to terminate on April 2, 2013. With this development, the aircraft has exceeded the extra two days or 48 hours leeway for it to leave the country.
“While still operating illegally, the aircraft has been sighted in several places, including Owerri and Akure. The owner of this aircraft according to the Certificate of Registration is Bank of Utah Trustee of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. The clearance for the aircraft was sought by Caverton Helicopters on March 27, 2013. Consequently, this aircraft in reference is hereby grounded at any airport that is located right now in the country.”