The last may not have been heard about grounding of aircraft linked to Nigerian Governors as the type of treatment meted out to the Governor of Rivers State, Hon Rotimi Amaechi was on Friday repeated. This time, Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State was at the receiving end. Street Journal’s findings revealed that the Nigerian Aviation Management Agency (NAMA), recalled and grounded the OAS helicopter in which the Governor was flying.
Findings revealed that the helicopter was airborne an airborne, conveying the Governor to Awka, the capital of Anambra State for the funeral service of the late Mrs. Colette Obi, wife of Senator Ben Obi, President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Inter Party Affairs which was scheduled for 10 am. The incident occurred minutes after the chopper took off from the Government House, Benin.
Narrating how it happened, the pilot of the helicopter, Captain James Manahash said “I was surprised that I was recalled after taking-off from Government House because I had communicated with the control tower on radio. We were already airborne when we got the call to return to the airport and we were even threatened that failure to do so would lead to complete grounding of the aircraft. The governor prevailed on me to return and listen to them. When we got back to the airport, I was told to pay landing and aerodrome fees which ordinary we could pay later because we were already airborne”.
The pilot however indicated that there might be more to the recall than just the landing as he said “even after completion of the process of payment which was done within 10 minutes, we were still delayed for one hour fifteen minutes. The Governor left in anger after that. I am surprised by this development because this is not the first time I would be coming to Benin to fly the governor”.
Speaking further, the pilot said “I was even threatened, after payment, that the aircraft will be grounded completely if I argued with them. I have flown for 35 years, seven of which I spent in Nigeria and this is the first time I am encountering a situation like this. I do not know what problem they have with the governor.”
When contacted, the Managing Director of OAS Helicopters, Mr Everest Nnaji disclosed that he was yet to find out why the helicopter was prevented from flying. “I am still making calls to find out exactly why they did not allow the pilot fly the helicopter conveying the Governor to Anambra State. I am really angry, I don’t know why they did that and that is why I am still trying to make contact because we have no problems with NAMA”, he said.
It will be recalled that a jet conveying Governor Amaechi was prevented from taking off at the Akure Airport not too long ago