The Aviation Ministry refused to submit required documents.
The federal government’s allegation that Rivers State Government falsified permits used in operating its aircraft, is a deliberate falsehood that cannot be substantiated and enforces the state’s claim that it was a victim of federal “witch-hunting”, a House of Representatives committee has said in its report of an investigation into the matter.
The report, submitted by the investigating committees to the House plenary Thursday, said federal aviation authorities deliberately refused to acknowledge Rivers State’s ownership of the aircraft, and may have indeed pressured aviation agent, Caverton Helicopter, to deny having a business relationship with Rivers State.
The committees said it was clear Caverton willfully misled the authorities by denying it acted on behalf of Rivers State. The report recommends officials of the company be prosecuted.
The controversy, which led to the grounding of the aircraft, is widely seen as a face of a political feud between Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and President Goodluck Jonathan over the 2015 presidential election. Mr. Amaechi has criticized the government’s policies, and is reportedly against Mr. Jonathan’s plan to seek a fresh term.
During investigations, lawmakers ordered the list of all private jets and owners and documentations to be submitted by the Ministry of Aviation to enable the committees examine whether the Rivers State treatment was any different, particularly as it regards ownership and expiration of license.
The committees said ministry and its departments blatantly refused to send in the required materials despite assuring to do same.
“This attitude may be interpreted as an attempt to hide the suspected fact that many aircraft air being operated with expired permits or licenses,” a likelihood which would nullify one of the government’s allegations that Rivers state operated the aircraft on an expired permit.