The detention of Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s helicopter was not political, aviation agencies spokesperson says.
Various agencies within Nigeria’s aviation sector on Saturday held a general press conference to dispel mounting views that aviation agencies in the country are being used to hound opposition governors by the presidency.
The agencies through their spokespersons and other top officials said they had utmost respect for all governors in the country.
The coordinating spokesperson for agencies in the aviation ministry, Yakubu Dati, who is also the spokesman of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, took the lead at the joint news conference held at the corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, in Ikeja.
The conference was also held to give further clarifications on the cause of the delay of the helicopter that was supposed to fly Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State from Benin City to Awka on Friday.
Mr. Dati urged Nigerians not to politicise the issue, stressing that NAMA was only performing its legitimate functions.
“We hold Gov. Oshiomhole in high esteem and part of the Federal Ministry of Aviation’s respect for him informed his being made our special guest of honour during the inauguration of the remodeled Benin Airport terminal some weeks ago,” Mr. Dati said.
He said all the aviation agencies also hold all governors in high esteem and urged pilots to always comply with directives of the agencies.
NAMA’s Director of Engineering Services, Ifeanyin Nwankwo, said that filing and submission of flight plans and manifest is a global standard practice in aviation sector, which pilots must observe.
Mr. Nwankwo said the aim is to protect the lives of passengers on board.
He recalled that recently, NAMA had challenges with some pilots which were amicably resolved.
The General Manager, Air Traffic Control Operations of NAMA, Chuks Onyegiri, said that all airlines had been informed of the new development regarding filling of manifest and flight plans by pilots.
“That (information) has been passed round to them all since April and all ought to have been complying with the directives,” he said.
The Air Traffic Controller on duty at Benin Airport, Adebiyi Oyeyinka, said that filing the flight plan and manifest was necessary for official documentation, security and safety purposes.
“In case of any accident, it is one of the documents that the search and rescue team would need to perform their duties.
“If passengers travelling through commercial buses at motor parks fill manifests, it should be of utmost importance to pilots and airline operators,” he said.
The General Manager, NAMA, Supo Atobatele, said that the agency acted professionally to enhance safety of the flight.
“Filling of flight plan and passenger manifest by pilots as required by the pilot that was supposed to have lifted Governor Oshiomhole on Friday had no political undertone at all.
“It is purely an aviation matter bordering on rules and regulations.
“Basically, as matter of rules, we need to know where the aircraft was going and how many people on board.
“NAMA by statute is covered by legislation to demand for all these. But the pilot or his employer failed to comply with simple procedure,” he said.
Mr. Atobatele said the issue was a minor one that should not have been given any political coloration, adding that NAMA would never be political in discharging its duties.