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Wike shuts Caverton Helicopters offices in Rivers State

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Wike


Wike shuts Caverton Helicopters offices in Rivers State

…..AON threatens withdrawal of flights to Port Harcourt

The governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has declared Caverton Helicopters a persona non grata in Rivers State and ordered all its offices in the state shut.

It would be recalled that on Tuesday, April 7, two pilots working for the company were arrested after they flew a helicopter into Port Harcourt in the wake of the coronavirus disease lockdown.

After their arrest, the pilots were subsequently arraigned before magistrate’s court on a four-count charge of contravening the state government’s executive order on travel ban in the state.

They were subsequently remanded in prison until May 19.

In a state-wide broadcast yesterday, the governor said his administration would do whatever is required to ensure that no business is unduly affected by the measures it had taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

He said 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.

“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,” he said.

He said airline’s insensitive and provocative actions 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 bothered 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,” Wike added.

In its reaction, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) threatened to instruct its members to stop all flights to Rivers State for three months if the remanded pilots of are not released.

Caverton Helicopters

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby calls for the immediate release of two (2) Pilots of Caverton Helicopters that were recently arrested and taken into custody in handcuffs by the Rivers State Government for allegedly flouting the COVID19 Lockdown Order in the State.

“The Airline Operators Nigeria condemns the move in the strongest term and considers it very unlawful in the face of the fact that the airline had secured all necessary approvals from the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the flight in line with the protocols for exemption of Essential flights as issued by the NCAA.

 “The AON also frowns at the crude action because the pilots were only doing their lawful duties which were also in line with President Muhammed Buhari’s Exemption Order of the Oil and Gas sector during the shutdown exercise.

“Aviation is under the Exclusivity List of the Federal Government and the Port Harcourt NAF Base is a Federal Government entity outside the jurisdiction of the Rivers State Government.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria hereby demands the immediate and unconditional release of the two pilots with all purported charges dropped so that they can go back to their families for the Easter holidays and return to their jobs.

“However, should the Rivers State Government fail to release the pilots within 24 hours, Airlines in the country will be forced to boycott all schedule and unscheduled commercial and private flight operations, including oil and gas offshore flight services, into Port Harcourt for a period of three (3) months.

“We, therefore, hope our appeal for the immediate release of the pilots within 24 hours will be heeded by Rivers State Government otherwise Airlines in the country will have no other option than to completely boycott all operations into Port Harcourt,” said AON chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggison in a statement.

Meanwhile, the minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, disagreed with Wike saying helicopter company had the federal government’s permission to fly.

Hadi Sirika

He said yesterday in Abuja at the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 briefing that civil aviation is on the exclusive list, just like Nigeria Air Force and the Armed Forces.

He said apart from the federal government “no other person had the legal rights to legislate on civil aviation”.

He explained that the exemption was part of strategies put in place by the federal government to rake in some revenue at this time of global oil price crisis, “of which the Rivers State is a beneficiary.”

“Civil aviation is on exclusive list item number three there. So no other person but the federal government has authority to legislate upon,” he said adding that the permission was granted to the pilots “as a matter of national interest.”

“Whether we have approval for the flight, yes we did and we did in national interest. All of these flights are for the purposes of improving the national revenue to which Rivers State is the greatest beneficiary.

“Those flights by Caverton, Aero Contractor, Arik, Bristow were for national interest and improved national revenue at a time when oil has gone below $30 per barrel and the cost of production is $30.

“In the wisdom of President Muhammadu Buhari, he thought that this be allowed so that the nation will not be crippled and national revenue will not be lost.

“It was against the background that we have the authority and being exclusively on the exclusive list and we have the powers in civil aviation, guided by the civil aviation act 2016 to approve such flights,” said Sirika.

AON threatens withdrawal of flights to Port Harcourt

The governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has declared Caverton Helicopters a persona non grata in Rivers State and ordered all its offices in the state shut.

It would be recalled that on Tuesday, April 7, two pilots working for the company were arrested after they flew a helicopter into Port Harcourt in the wake of the coronavirus disease lockdown.

After their arrest, the pilots were subsequently arraigned before magistrate’s court on a four-count charge of contravening the state government’s executive order on travel ban in the state.

They were subsequently remanded in prison until May 19.

In a state-wide broadcast yesterday, the governor said his administration would do whatever is required to ensure that no business is unduly affected by the measures it had taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

He said 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.

“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,” he said.

He said airline’s insensitive and provocative actions 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 bothered 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,” Wike added.

In its reaction, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) threatened to instruct its members to stop all flights to Rivers State for three months if the remanded pilots of are not released.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby calls for the immediate release of two (2) Pilots of Caverton Helicopters that were recently arrested and taken into custody in handcuffs by the Rivers State Government for allegedly flouting the COVID19 Lockdown Order in the State.

“The Airline Operators Nigeria condemns the move in the strongest term and considers it very unlawful in the face of the fact that the airline had secured all necessary approvals from the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the flight in line with the protocols for exemption of Essential flights as issued by the NCAA.

 “The AON also frowns at the crude action because the pilots were only doing their lawful duties which were also in line with President Muhammed Buhari’s Exemption Order of the Oil and Gas sector during the shutdown exercise.

“Aviation is under the Exclusivity List of the Federal Government and the Port Harcourt NAF Base is a Federal Government entity outside the jurisdiction of the Rivers State Government.

“The Airline Operators of Nigeria hereby demands the immediate and unconditional release of the two pilots with all purported charges dropped so that they can go back to their families for the Easter holidays and return to their jobs.

“However, should the Rivers State Government fail to release the pilots within 24 hours, Airlines in the country will be forced to boycott all schedule and unscheduled commercial and private flight operations, including oil and gas offshore flight services, into Port Harcourt for a period of three (3) months.

“We, therefore, hope our appeal for the immediate release of the pilots within 24 hours will be heeded by Rivers State Government otherwise Airlines in the country will have no other option than to completely boycott all operations into Port Harcourt,” said AON chairman, Capt. Nogie Meggison in a statement.

Meanwhile, the minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, disagreed with Wike saying helicopter company had the federal government’s permission to fly.

He said yesterday in Abuja at the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 briefing that civil aviation is on the exclusive list, just like Nigeria Air Force and the Armed Forces.

He said apart from the federal government “no other person had the legal rights to legislate on civil aviation”.

He explained that the exemption was part of strategies put in place by the federal government to rake in some revenue at this time of global oil price crisis, “of which the Rivers State is a beneficiary.”

“Civil aviation is on exclusive list item number three there. So no other person but the federal government has authority to legislate upon,” he said adding that the permission was granted to the pilots “as a matter of national interest.”

“Whether we have approval for the flight, yes we did and we did in national interest. All of these flights are for the purposes of improving the national revenue to which Rivers State is the greatest beneficiary.

“Those flights by Caverton, Aero Contractor, Arik, Bristow were for national interest and improved national revenue at a time when oil has gone below $30 per barrel and the cost of production is $30.

“In the wisdom of President Muhammadu Buhari, he thought that this be allowed so that the nation will not be crippled and national revenue will not be lost.

“It was against the background that we have the authority and being exclusively on the exclusive list and we have the powers in civil aviation, guided by the civil aviation act 2016 to approve such flights,” said Sirika.

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Man punches nurse in the face multiple times after his wife is vaccinated for Covid

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Police are looking for a man in Canada they say punched a nurse in the face multiple times, knocking her to the ground after she administered a Covid-19 vaccine to his wife without his permission.

On Monday, around 9:15 a.m., a man walked into a Brunet Pharmacy in Sherbrooke, a city in southern Quebec, and accused a nurse in her 40s, who police have not named, of vaccinating his wife, Sherbrooke Police spokesman Martin Carrier told CNN.

“Right at the beginning, the suspect was very angry, very aggressive, he asked the nurse why she vaccinated his wife without approval, without his consent,” Carrier said. “And he punched her right in the face multiple times so the nurse didn’t have the time to defend or explain herself … and she fell to the ground and the suspect left running out of the drugstore.”

There are no laws in Canada that say individuals need their spouses’ permission to get vaccinated, and it is unclear if his wife had given consent.

The nurse was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance where she was treated for the “multiple injuries to the face” he said.

As a result of the incident, the pharmacy told CNN partner, CBC, that they suspended vaccinations. CNN reached out to the pharmacy but they refused to comment on whether or not vaccinations were being administered Thursday.

Brunet Pharmacy’s parent company, The Jean Coutu Group Inc., also declined to comment but told CNN they “fully condemn this act which is unacceptable towards the pharmacy teams who have been providing essential services since the beginning of the pandemic.”

Canada has vaccinated 69.8% of its population, surpassing the US by 15.6%, according to data from Our World in Data, seen in CNN’s vaccine tracker.

Although most Canadians have welcomed public health measures and the country has one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide, case counts and hospitalizations are on the rise, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, especially among younger, unvaccinated Canadians.

Police do not have a name or photo of the suspect or security footage of the incident, Carrier said. They do however have a description of the man and are hoping with the public’s help, they’ll be able to identify him and charge him with assault.

The suspect is described as, 30 to 45-year-old-man, 6-feet tall, medium build with darker skin, short brown hair, thick eyebrows, two small ear piercings on each ear and a tattoo on his hand that appeared to be in the shape of a cross, Carrier said

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NPA vows to upgrade country’s maritime hub status

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Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

In a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Olaseni Alakija, Bello-Koko disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun,  at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors.

The theme of the retreat was “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence.”

He noted that investments in modern deep seaports would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

The statement said Bello-Koko disclosed that a lot had been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from ports.

Such efforts, he said, were in line with the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise NPA’s aspirations,

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa,” he said.

The statement said the acting managing director described the board retreat as very timely, as it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision.

According to him, the vision is one in which the executive management works closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate and embraces an all-inclusive strategic outcome for the organisation with the requisite buy-in of the board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the board with regards to the executive management’s limitations in actualising some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat,” he added.

The NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He, however, explained that some of the benchmarks which were yet to be achieved were dependent on “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

He said that NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape.

He enumerated the constraints as conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.

He informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand NPA’s revenue streams, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

According to him, unlike the practice in sister Francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, the NPA was responsible for funding its.

This, he said, has put a lot of strains on its resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.

“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.

“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.

Bello-Koko explained that the authority was blessed with prime real estates which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones.

* Apapa Wharf

“They are mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

The Acting MD also disclosed that management had opened correspondence with some multilateral financial institutions such as the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp).

He explained that these were all part of plans to access long term low interest credits for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“In making the Nigerian seaports more business friendly, we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.

“A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

“The authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lily Pond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.

“The trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform and the authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

He added that other solutions being implemented was the push to link all seaports to the national rail network, as well as optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Bello-Koko said that currently the authority was streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

He said that the Bonny Seaport project in Rivers, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South-South and South-Eastern regions.

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BREAKING: Former CBN Deputy Governor Obadiah Mailafia Dies at 64

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A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, has passed on at the age of 64.

Mailafia, who was a columnist with The PUNCH was said to have died at midnight after a brief illness.

The former deputy governor, who was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the 2019 election, was a known government critic and had advocated for public sector and exchange rate reforms.

Mailafia was born on December 24, 1956, in the Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

He later graduated top of his class at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1978 with a First Class B.Sc.Honours Social Sciences degree (Politics, Economics, and Sociology). He also has an M.Sc. from the same institution.

He subsequently won a French Government Scholarship to France, where he earned a Certificate in French Language and Civilisation from the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1985.

Mailafia later proceeded to the United Kingdom as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar at Oriel College, earning a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1995.

He joined partisan politics in 2018 amid the rising killings in Southern Kaduna.

Despite losing, he remained an ardent government critic and got into trouble with the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when he alleged that a northern governor was a Boko Haram commander.

This earned multiple invitations by the Nigeria Police Force, forcing him to recant his statement.

In his last interview with The PUNCH, Mailafia said the refusal of the CBN to sell foreign exchange to bureau de change operators may not yield the expected result because corrupt bankers would frustrate it while the BDC operators were being shielded by a “Jigawa cabal”.

He had also lamented that Nigeria was operating a “dollarised” economy which was hampering economic growth.

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