Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, has said that Rivers State Government does not need to know when a flight will land on a federal government facility.
According to him, the oil gas sector was exempted from the lockdown against COVID-19 in the national interest.
This follows a face-off between the federal government and Rivers State Government over the arrest and detention of two Caverton pilots who flew in five oil workers into the state on Tuesday.
Speaking during a briefing by the presidential task force on COVID-19 on Friday Sirika vowed that the Federal government will secure the release of the two pilots remanded in a facility in Port Harcourt.
He said; “The pilots were carrying out a national assignment as stated in the speech and address by the SGF who is the Chairman of the Taskforce and the address of the President, oil and gas sector is exempted from the lockdown in the national interest. These Caverton Pilots were flying into a military base, national assignment.
“Of course, I may not be ‘learned’ but I am ‘lettered’ and I understand, if any, in this case, there is none, a conflict between state law and federal law.
“But I will not argue law on this platform. It is unnecessary. So, whether His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers state ought to know if the exempted Caverton flight would be landing in a military base in Port Harcourt belonging to the Airforce, he does not need to know.
“The pilots will soon be released. They will be secured and there will not be any conviction hanging on their necks. And arising from the Constitutional provision and the powers of Mr. President, and the seriousness of this Task-force and the danger of COVID-19, and the way we operate, civil aviation including military aviation, that is why I said the Air force officer acted ignorantly when a Chopper landed on his property to have called the governor and also the Federal police who made the arrest within the premises of the military acted ignorantly too, same with those who prosecuted them.
“And I said they exhibited incompetence. This matter should not be over flogged. The Federal Government is a very serious matter. It is, therefore, the 200 million people of Nigeria”, he stated.