River State lawmakers made up of Senate and House of Representatives members have cautioned the federal government not to meddle with affairs of the state under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike.
Recall that the federal government on Wednesday flayed Wike over two Caverton’s pilots who were recently arrested in Port Harcourt for allegedly violating the lockdown order imposed by the Rivers State government- saying they were due authorized to fly.
The minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the pilots had the permission of the federal government to fly.
However, Rivers NASS caucus on Thursday night faulted Sirika’s position in a statement made available to newsmen.
The lawmakers also declared support for Governor Wike’s sanctions on Caverton’s ‘unauthorized’ flight into Rives State.
The statement reads:” We are aware that there is a Global pandemic COVID-19 ravaging the entire globe with nearly 1.5million people already known to have been infected and over 80,000 deaths recorded officially thereby compelling all nations to take steps to contain and halt its spread and safeguard the lives of citizens, Nigeria also is making efforts in this direction.
“One of the steps and actions were taken by different countries include lockdowns, restrictions of movements into and out of areas and even within an area. Flights have also been affected.
“In Nigeria, as a federation, several states were quite proactive and took steps to contain the pandemic which Rivers State also did and deriving from the Quarantine Act, issued guidelines and protocols to guide and direct the activities of Government and its citizens during the period of the lockdown and restrictions.
“To the consternation of all, Caverton helicopters were observed sadly to be ferrying passengers into Rivers State from unknown destinations without any declaration of their COVID-19 status and or prior information to the state for its health officers to be on ground. This action no doubt endangered the lives of the citizens and all those residing in Rivers State and is contrary to the executive orders RVSG-01, 2020 Made pursuant to sections 2, 4 and 8 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q21 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Regulation 11 of the Quarantine (Corona Virus (COVID-19) and other infectious diseases regulations 2020.
“We should be reminded at this point that the responsibility of any Government is the welfare and security of the lives of its citizens and as such should not be seen to be placing its citizens in harm’s way.”
It added: “The Rivers State Government resort to the judicial and administrative means to curtail the excesses of Carverton Helicopter rather than be applauded, we observed that an appointee of Mr President Sen. Hadi Sirika- Minister of Aviation resorted to issuing threats to an elected Governor, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike whose responsibility it is to protect the lives of Rivers people and her residence.
“We want to assume that the Minister of Aviation does not understand the times or the true meaning of a Federation or may have an ulterior motive to expose the citizens of Rivers State to danger and death from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is pertinent to note that every person (including ministers) on Rivers soil, save you enjoy immunity, is bound by the laws and regulations of the land.
“It is equally sad and heart-wrenching that the Minister’s attempted justification of his desire to open the doors of the death unto Rivers State and its people is to enable the unhindered flow of Oil revenue for a central Government that has continuously treated the people with so much disdain. Let it be stated and here that enough of Rivers blood and indeed that of the people of the Niger Delta have been used to water the “oil fields and revenue of a dysfunctional Federation “ no more of the blood of the people should be used to water the “oil and revenue flow”. We would have expected that the Federal Government would be more interested in protecting the people and have better communication in pursuing whatever interest.
“More insulting to the sensibilities of Rivers people is the disdainful claim by the minister that Rivers State benefits more from the proceeds of oil operation. That to us as Representatives of Rivers people is like spitting on our graves as you discretionally give us a percentage of our resources in a Federation and expect us to be grateful to you.
“It is also very pertinent to put on record that this is indeed not the first time the management of Caverton Helicopters is being treacherous with Rivers State and her citizens.
“We want to say that we stand with and support the actions taken so far by our amiable Executive Governor of our dear state, Rivers State to protect the lives of the people of Rivers State and pray that God should continue to guide and protect Rivers State.
“We caution the lieutenants of Mr President to desist from reckless actions that are likely to paint Mr President in bad light. We must work as a Nation United, sincere and transparent in the fight against the pandemic.
“All essential services are allowed to operate subject to the safety of lives of our citizens.”