The Federal government through the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) yesterday, grounded Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s helicopter.
The Minutes after the OAS-operated chopper took off from Government House, Benin with the governor and a few of his aides on board, authorities of NAMA regulatory body told the pilot to return to the Benin Airport.
Oshiomole who was scheduled to attend the burial of Mrs.Colette Obi, wife of Senator Ben Obi, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters in Awka,Anambra State left the airport shocked and angered.
The pilot of the OAS helicopter, Captain James Manahash, a Filipino, said yesterday that he 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 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 ordinarily we could pay later because we were already airborne.”
He added that: “Even after completing the process of payment 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. I was even threatened, after payment, that the aircraft would 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.”
He is the second governor in six weeks to be so treated by the regulatory agencies in the aviation sector.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s Bombadier BD70 jet was grounded at Akure Airport in Ondo State on April 26 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority after he had attended the burial of the former deputy governor of Ekiti State, Mrs. Funmi Olayinka, in Ado Ekiti.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said at the time that the action was taken in accordance with safety procedures and the law governing Nigeria’s civil aviation regulations, including alleged forgery of the aircraft’s documents.