Court Grants Bail to Caverton Helicopters’ Pilots, Passengers

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, has granted bail to Mr. Samuel Ugorji and Mr. Samuel Buhari, both pilots with Caverton Helicopters, who were accused of contravening the Executive Order issued by the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The court also granted bail to 10 passengers of Caverton Helicopters who were flown into Rivers State by the two pilots.

Chief Magistrate D.D. Ihua-Maduenyi yesterday 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 Caverton Helicopters.

The court ruled that the surety must own a landed property in Port Harcourt and must ensure that the two pilots attend the trial.

He added that the surety will sign a bail bond of N1 million each for the two pilots.

Earlier, the court had granted a motion abridging the time for the bail application to be filed following a motion moved by Caverton Helicopters.

It deemed the bail application as properly filed.

The magistrate adjourned the matter till May 19 for trial.

Lawyer to Caverton pilots, Mr. 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.

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 granted bail are 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 Caverton Helicopters.

The sureties are to sign a 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 alleged illegal flight into the state.

Ibe told reporters after the court session that the basic lesson in the case was that there must be mutual respect between the federal and state governments.

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

Adangor said it must be noted that the state was not interested in the persecution of the defendants, hence it did not oppose the bail application.

He said the state government was only interested in prosecuting the defendants in line with the law.

He added 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 the two pilots in prison custody for allegedly intentionally disobeying the Executive Order issued aimed at checking the spread of the virus in the state.

The court remanded the two pilots at the Delta Hotels, Old GRA, Port Harcourt after Adangor applied for that order.