COVID-19: Court Grants Bail to Accused Carveton Helicopters Pilots, Passengers


By Ernest Chinwo

A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Port Harcourt has granted bail to Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari, both pilots with Carveton Helicopters, who were accused of contravening the Executive Order of the Rivers State Governor issued to check the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The Magistrate’s Court also granted bail to 10 passengers of Carveton Helicopters who were flown into Rivers State by the two pilots.

Chief Magistrate D.D. Ihua-Maduenyi Tuesday granted the two pilots bail after hearing the bail application by their counsel.

Ihua-Maduenyi in granting the two pilots bail stated that they must present a surety who must be a management staff of Carveton Helicopters.

The court ruled that the surety must own a landed property in Port Harcourt and the surety must ensure that the two pilots attend trial. He added that the surety will sign a bail bond of N1 million each for the two pilots.

Earlier, the court granted a motion abridging the time for the bail application to be filed following a motion moved by Carveton Helicopters. It deemed the bail application as properly filed.

He adjourned the matter to May 19 for trial.

The lawyer to the Carveton pilots, Nwokedi Ibe, moved a bail application seeking the court to grant the two pilots bail.

His bail application, dated April 8 but filed on April 9, was supported by a 28-paragraph affidavit.

The Attorney-General of Rivers State, Prof. Zaccheus Adangor, who appeared for the state, did not oppose the bail application.

He, however, urged the court to set out bail conditions to ensure that the pilots attend their trial.

The 10 passengers, who were granted bail included Nwogu Chibuna, Peter Michael, Ajagba Iheayni, Ekperewechi Oguguo, Nsikan Pius, Abanobi Chinoso and Udoh Hagan.

Others are Okachukwu Chuks, Goddy Chukwu and Oomerurike Chijioke.

For the passengers, the court ruled that they should present two sureties who must be management staff of Carveton Helicopters.

The sureties are to sign bail bond of N500,000 for each of the passengers and undertake to bring the accused persons for trial.

They were arrested at the Air Force Base, Port Harcourt after the Rivers State Police Command received intelligence on their illegal flight into the state.

Addressing journalists, the counsel to Carveton Helicopters, Ibe, said the basic lesson in the who interaction is that there must be mutual respect between the federal and state governments.

He said: “I want to use this medium to say there is need for mutual respect between the federal government and state government. The defendants have been granted bail. That is the essence of what happened in court.”

The Attorney-General of Rivers State, Adangor, said it must be noted that the Rivers State Government is not interested in the persecution of the defendants, hence it did not oppose the bail application.

He said that the state government is only interested in prosecuting the defendants in line with the law, adding that the defendants would be released as soon as they perfect their bail.

A Port Harcourt Chief Magistrate’s Court had on April 7 remanded two pilots of Carveton Helicopters — Samuel Ugorji and Samuel Buhari — in prison custody for allegedly intentionally disobeying the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor aimed at checking the spread of coronavirus in the state.

The court presided over by Chief Magistrate Ihua-Maduenyi remanded the two pilots at the Delta Hotels, Old GRA, Port Harcourt after Adangor applied for that order.