The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has directed all local government council Chairmen where Caverton Helicopters has its offices in the state to shut down the company’s activities.
The governor, in a state-wide broadcast on Wednesday, said his administration will do whatever is required to ensure that no business is unduly affected by the measures it has taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
He noted that the state government will not welcome businesses or companies that value their business activities and profits in clear disregard of the lives and health of the people of the state.
Daily Trust reports that the Federal Government on Wednesday also reiterated that Caverton Helicopters was granted the flight permit to fly into Port Harcourt, Rivers state as it is the exclusive right of the FG to do so in such circumstance.
“By its actions, Caverton Helicopters has clearly shown that Rivers lives do not matter to it. It is an enemy of Rivers people and is hereby declared persona non grata in Rivers State.
“With this declaration, Caverton Helicopters can only chose 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,” the governor said.
Governor Wike said that the alleged insensitive and provocative actions of Caverton Helicopters took place amidst credible intelligence reports about plans by those he described as ‘the enemies of the state’ to traffic carriers of the dreaded coronavirus into the state.
“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 secured from the ravaging pandemic.
“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.
“Caverton 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,” the governor said.
He added: “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.”
Daily Trust reports that the Rivers state Police Command, at the instance of the state government, had on Tuesday arrested two pilots of Caverton Helicopters as well as the 10 passengers on board the aircraft.
Both the pilots and the passengers were arraigned same day before a Magistrate Court in Port Harcourt on a four-count charge of contravening the state government’s executive order on travel ban in the state.