Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says it has become inevitable to shut down operations of Carverton Helicopters in the state, after the state government observe that the company appeared to value its business activities or profit more than and in clear disregard of the lives and health of the people of the state.
Wike said on Wednesday that he had directed local government council chairmen to close all offices of Carveton Helicopters across the state.
The governor, who had earlier accused the Federal Government of not providing any COVID-19 aid to the state described the actions of the aviation company as “suspicious operation of the company in the state.
“We appreciate the need to protect business interests and operations in the state and we will do whatever that is required to ensure that no business is unduly affected by the measures we have taken to combat the Coronavirus.
“However, we shall not welcome businesses or companies that value their business activities or profit more than or in clear disregard of the lives and health of our people,” Wike said in a media address.
Wike said the “highly insensitive and provocative actions of Calverton Helicopters took place in the midst of credible intelligence reports about plans by enemies of the state to traffic carriers of the dreaded Coronavirus into the state.”
“With this declaration Calverton Helicopters can only choose to operate in any part of Rivers State 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 the infection rate and rubbish the robust measures we have since put in place to cut off the spread of the virus and keep our State and our citizens safe and secure from the ravaging pandemic,” the governor noted.
He continued, “As expected, and required by our laws, the crew and the passengers on board that ill-fated helicopter were promptly arrested by the law enforcement personnel and are being prosecuted before our courts in line with our COVID 19 Declarations and Containment Orders.
“Calverton Helicopters claimed to have gotten permits from some federal agencies to fly passengers into the State, which never bordered 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.
“Let me reiterate that for us, COVID 19 in Rivers State is a matter of life and death, and we will never succumb to any blackmail from any person, institution or authority in our determination to protect our citizens and our State from the spread of this deadly virus.
“Since we triggered the law on Calverton Helicopters, we have seen and read all sorts of hilarious and frivolous comments, particularly on social media, questioning the propriety of our actions against the carrier and its passengers
“At this time and under the present situation, nothing; I repeat; nothing, is more important to us than to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of our citizens no matter the cost, and we shall spare no efforts to achieve this singular most fundamental objective of our Government.
“We have sworn to protect the lives and advance the wellbeing our people, and nothing can stop us from taking all necessary steps to prevent or stop any person, action or activities that would endanger the lives of our citizens,” he said.
Recall that the Federal Government had said the Air Force Commander in Port Harcourt, who invited Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to arrest Caverton Helicopter pilots, and passengers on board the concerned flight; the Police Commissioner who accompanied Governor Wike; and the Military Commander, who all collaborated with the Governor, usurped the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said while necessary approvals were given to Carveton to fly, the aviation sector is on the exclusive list and Governor Wike had no right to enter the premises of Carveton.