By Godwin Anene
A Port Harcourt Magistrate Court has remanded two pilots, Samuel Buhari and Samuel Ugorji, in prison for allegedly violating the Rivers State Government Executive Order on closure of all borders to prevent spread of COVID-19.
Buhari and Ugorji were arraigned before Chief Magistrate D.D. Ihua-Maduenyi on Tuesday in Port Harcourt.
Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike had declared total lockdown and closure of borders in the state over the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
Presiding Chief Magistrate who remanded both pilots to the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre till May 19, 2020 for commencement of trial also ordered that COVID-19 tests be carried out on the duo to ascertain their status.
The arraignment of the accused, employees of Carveton Helicopters followed Governor Wike’s storming of the firm’s operations at the Nigeria Air Force Base, Port Harcourt, resulting in their arrest by the State Police Command who took them to court on Charge No: PMC/532C/2020.
Prosecution Counsel, SP Gladys Amadi told the court to remind both accused pending conclusion of investigations, arguing that the acts of both pilots were capable of putting the entire state in danger of contracting the pandemic and allowing them to roam the streets would endanger lives in the state.
The four count charge read in part, “Count 1: That you Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at large as pilot and co-pilot of Twin-Otter, Carveton Helicopters on the 7th day of April 2020 at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt did conspire amongst yourselves to commit misdemeanour to wit: disobedience to lawful order and thereby committed an offence under section 517A of the criminal code CAP 37, Vol 11 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.
“Count 2: That you Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at large on the same date and place at the aforesaid magisterial District did intentionally disobey the lawful order issued by the Governor of Rivers State as contained in paragraph 8 of the Executive Order RVSG -01 2020 made pursuant to Sections 2, 4, and 8 of Quarantine Act Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Regulation 11 of the Quarantine (Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) and other infectious diseases) regulations , 2020 by flying the Twin-Otter Caverton Helicopters into Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 of the Quarantine Act Cap Q2 LFN , 2004.
“Count 3: That you Samuel Ugorji (m), Samuel Buhari (m) and others now at large on the same date and place at the aforesaid magisterial District did conduct yourselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by flying and discharging passengers from the Twin-Otter helicopter at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 249 (d) of the criminal code laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.”
Governor Wike had said, “I am willing to drop my immunity as a governor as far as this case is concerned. I am ready to be a prosecution witness. This is a serious matter to us and police should handle it seriously.
“Nobody knows whether they are positive or negative. I have said I don’t have right to close the airport. But I have the right of saying don’t enter my state because we want to know your status”
Rivers new Isolation Center to hosts 10 ventilators
Meanwhile project executors at the new Covid-19 Isolation Center in Elekahia Stadium, Port Harcourt, have said the facility to be ready in the next two days would be fitted with 10 ventilators expected to arrive the state in less than a week.
The personnel in charge of the center simply identified as Mrs Ighodalu she disclosed that the facility was being built building by Access Bank PLC, stating that, “This center is already in completion stage and should be ready in two days. We are expecting 10 ventilators which will arrive the state in less than a week”, she assured.