Tuesday, May 19, 2020 2:03 pm
…The two pilots and their 10 Passengers are now discharged and acquitted of all criminal charges
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The Rivers State on Monday withdrew the charges filed against two pilots of Caverton Helicopters and 10 passengers for flying into the State against the Executive Order of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The charges preferred against the two pilots of and the 10 passengers before a Port Harcourt Chief Magistrates’ Court were withdrawn by the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Prof. Zacheus Adango on Tuesday when the trial was expected to resume, according to a statement signed by Paulinus Nsirim, Rivers Commissioner for Information and Communications.
Nsirim added that the presiding Chief Magistrate, D. D. Ihua-Maduenyi Esq has consequently struck out the two charges and discharged all the defendants.
The withdrawal of the charges put paid to controversies which began Tuesday April 7, when Governor Wike in the company of immediate past Rivers Commissioner of Police, CP Mustapha Dandaura and other service Commanders arrested the two Caverton Helicopters’ pilots and their passengers for flying into the State in spite of lockdown imposed to check the spread of Coronavirus.
The Court presided over by Chief Magistrate D.D. Ihua-Maduenyi had ordered that the two pilots should be remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre till May 19, 2020 when their trial will commence.
The Magistrate also ruled that COVID-19 tests be carried out on the two pilots ascertain their status.
Prosecution Counsel and Officer-in-charge, Legal of the Rivers State Police Command, Superintendent of Police, Gladys Amadi, had during the trial told the court that the acts of the two pilots were capable of putting the entire State in danger of Coronavirus.
The passengers were arraigned on similar charges the next day.
The two pilots, Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari, were remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre, but were later moved to Delta Hotel, Port Harcourt on the next day after management of Caverton Helicopters wrote to the Federal Government .
Caverton Helicopter had argued that the Pilots were arrested and being prosecuted for carrying out a legal duty because they had the permission of the Federal Government to fly into Port Harcourt.