Posted by News Express | 1 May 2013 | 3,431 times
The Government of Rivers State, South-South Nigeria, has admitted that its $45.7 million jet being used by Governor Chibuike Amaechi but which was grounded over the weekend by the country’s aviation authorities, was yet to be licenced.
In grounding the aircraft, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had said that it was operating illegally without a licence but critics dismissed the reason given for the action, attributing it t political vendetta since Amaechi and President Goodluck Jonathan are allegedly not in good terms.
However, in a statement she issued yesterday in the state capital, Port Harcourt, the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Ibim Semenitari, said that the “aircraft was being operated through a local operator, Caverton Helicopters, pending approval of importation licence by Minister of Aviation,” adding: “Request for this license was filed by the operator on behalf of the Rivers State government and this was expressly stated in the request filed on August 27, 2012 and received in the Minister’s office on September 4, 2012.”
Even so, the commissioner blamed the country’s aviation authorities, saying that they have handled the issue in a shoddy manner that raises eyebrows. Below is the text of her statement entitled “Press Release on the Rivers State Government Bombardier BD 700 Global Express Jet”:
The Rivers State Government has noticed with dismay a series of statements attributed to officials of different agencies in the aviation sector on the status of the aircraft belonging to the Rivers State Government, a Bombardier BD 700 Global Express jet.
It is pertinent to note that all of the information and queries about this aircraft have only been through the mass media. The Rivers State Government has not received any communication from the Ministry of Aviation or any of its agencies querying the status of its aircraft even up till this moment.
The Rivers State Government is surprised to read about matters of administrative procedure and allegations of illegality and abuse of process in the media.
The Rivers state government wishes to note that this press conference and the various issues raised arose only after the embarrassing incident of a delay of the aircraft and its passengers at Akure on Friday, April 26, 2013
The Rivers State Government wishes to note also that the issues raised in this press briefing will be the third reason adduced for the delay of the Rivers State Government’s aircraft in Akure.
However, for purposes of clarification and in keeping with its policy of rendering “transparent and accountable stewardship” to Rivers people, we would wish to state the following for the avoidance of doubt:
1) Aircraft N 566 RS arrived Nigeria and has been operating since October 2012.
2) It was bought by Rivers State Government and registered as a US Aircraft in the first instance, to preserve value and provide ease of operation and sourcing of available pilots.
3) To qualify for N registration, operator must be a US citizen hence RVSG entered into a trust with Bank of Utah Inc, a bank that specialises in Aircraft trust.
4) The relationship between the state government and Bank of Utah is that of a trustor and trustee. All N registered Aircrafts enjoy the privileges of a US citizen,
5) Trust agreement for the purpose of N registration is common in the aviation industry.
6) It is important to state that there are other aircraft owners in Nigeria with N registered aircraft. This practice is because of the ease of movement that N registered aircraft are privileged to enjoy. We do not therefore understand why Rivers State Government has been singled out.
7) The clearance referred to was PH - Accra - PH and not Accra PH Accra as stated.
8) Aircraft was being operated through a local operator, Caverton Helicopters, pending approval of importation licence by Minister of Aviation.
9) Request for this license was filed by the operator on behalf of the Rivers State government and this was expressly stated in the request filed on August 27, 2012 and received in the Minister’s office on September 4, 2012.
10) The Rivers State government is a responsible sub national and guardian of the resources of its people. It will at all times and in all circumstances act within the confines of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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