Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was on Friday stranded for two hours at Akure Airport as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency prevented his Bombardier jet from flying.
Although no official reason was given for the development, it was learnt that aviation officials were acting on an ‘order from above’ not to allow Amaechi’s jet to leave the airport.
Amaechi was on his way to Port Harcourt after attending the burial of Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Funmi Olayinka, in Ado Ekiti when the incident occurred.
An employee of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria told our correspondent that the aircraft was prevented from flying because the presidential aircraft that brought Amina Sambo, the wife of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, to the airport from Abuja had not taken off.
But another source said the pilot of the governor’s aircraft neither filed a flight plan nor manifest of passengers on the jet.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal,and some other government officials witnessed the grounding of the governor’s jet.
Amaechi’s aircraft was eventually cleared to fly when the pilot had completed the necessary procedures, an official said.
Spokesman for NAMA, Mr. Supo Atobatele, who confirmed the development, said the plane was not cleared to take off initially because the pilot failed to observe certain mandatory requirements.
He said, “By rule, a pilot has to file in the number of souls on board his or her aircraft. These are necessary things that you need to do. In the course trying to do that, the 6pm deadline caught up with him because Akure airport is not on a 24-hour service like other major airports.
“We had to make other special logistics arrangement for the plane to take off later. If you want to fly after 6pm, we have to make a special arrangement, which we did. As I speak, the aircraft is already in Port Harcourt.”