Nigeria has become tyrannical, the Rivers State Government declared yesterday. It condemned Sunday’s grounding of the aircraft chartered by Governor Rotimi Amaechi at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
It also alleged that the governor was imprisoned. Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, told reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, that the refusal of NAMA authorities to allow Amaechi’s charttered aircraft to leave the Kano airport, was sign of tyranny.
Amaechi, a former National Chairman of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and a fromer Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, were in Kano to condole with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, on the death of Emir Ado Bayero.
Semenitari said: “I got to my counterpart in Kano State. I could not get the Commissioner for Information, but I got the Commissioner for Home Affairs, who briefed me and told me that the charttered aircraft that conveyed the Rivers State Governor to Kano was denied take-off from the Aminu Kano International Airport, by a fellow, who identified himself as the Commandant, acting on orders from above.
“That was the only information he was willing to share, when the governor inquired about what offence he or the aircraft operators committed.
“Yesterday (on Sunday), my counterpart in Kano State told me that the people at the airport said they were directed not to allow all non-scheduled aircraft to take off or land. So, while the governor was there, I was also told they began to lock all the gates to the exit of the airport and they locked the gates with the governor inside the aircraft. For the governor to exit the airport, somebody had to break the padlock of the gate. So, the governor and his team could leave. That amounts to imprisonment without charge.
“More seriously is the fact that this does not portend well for our democracy. It does not portend well for us as we enter into the next elections. A situation where newspapers are seized, consignments of newspapers are seized, it is the beginning of stifling Nigerians.”
Semenitari wondered why an aircraft that was cleared before the time of arrival, would not be allowed to take-off with the same passengers it landed with. The development, she said, indicated that some people wanted to intimidate Nigerians ahead of the 2015 general elections, which she said must not be allowed.
Already, Rivers State aircraft remains grounded at the Port Harcourt airport on the orders of the aviation authorities.
An official in the aviation agency yesterday said for security reasons, aircraft were prevented from entering and leaving the Kano Airport for sometime.
The official, who said he was not authorised to speak, added that the restriction was lifted yesterday afternoon.