• Saturday, May 25, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Rivers govt officials shocked over Caverton CEO’s transaction denial

businessday-icon

Top government officials in Rivers State are said to be still in shock over the denial of transactions by top management of Caverton Helicopter over dealings done in the importation of the controversial Bombardier Global 700 Jet by the state government.

Officials also said they welcome the 48-hour ultimatum given by the lawmakers for the NCAA to produce the documentation and licences of all privately owned jets in the country, to ascertain if the Bombardier was being treated equally with others.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had delayed the plane at Akure airport, Ondo State over alleged failure to file the manifest few weeks ago and later grounded it for alleged irregularity in documentation. The Ministry of Aviation later took responsibility, saying the plane had dubious ownership claims. Counter claims by the Rivers State government and flurry of responses from the federal aviation agencies forced the House of Representatives to institute a probe on the matter.

At the committee sitting on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 in Abuja, the Rivers State government represented by the secretary to the state government (SSG), George Feyii, had submitted that the importation was done through a Nigerian company, Caverton Helicopter, but the management of the company denied such responsibility before the committee.

Rivers State officials who handled the transactions told newsmen on condition of anonymity (because they had not got clearance to address the press yet) said they have been stunned by the denial of a business partner before a probe panel.

The sources said Caverton executives may have been under pressure to disown the deal, even in the face of substantial evidence and documents.

The saving grace, they noted, is the ultimatum for the aviation authorities to produce the ownership documents that warranted the licences granted by the NCAA within 48 hours. The government officials said nobody will be able to build up fresh documents that would be genuine within that period, except they forced the House to extend the deadline.

Feyii had submitted that the plane truly belongs to the Rivers State government which he said only incorporated a limited liability company, the Bank of Utah Trustee, to facilitate the transaction.

He said Caverton Helicopters made the application for the import of the plane to the minister of aviation on behalf of the state government, adding that due to the arrangement, it was insinuated that the aircraft no longer belonged to the Rivers State government. He said, “The above position shows that the plane belongs not to any other person but to the government of Rivers State”.

The SSG deposed that the state government has been paying all the necessary operational charges with respect to the operation and use of the aircraft. 

IGNATIUS CHUKWU