THE Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was locked inside the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport on Sunday for an undisclosed number of minutes after his chartered aircraft was grounded by the airport authorities.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, who spoke on Amaechi’s behalf, while briefing newsmen on Monday, said all the gates leading into and out of the airport were locked apparently to prevent the take-off or landing of any aircraft.
Semenitari expressed surprise that the gates could be locked when it was clear that Amaechi was still in the aircraft.
She explained that the padlocks to the gates had to be broken to allow Amaechi, who was in company with the former Governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje and Alhaji Kawu Baraje go out of the airport.
The commissioner added that Amaechi was denied take-off from the Aminu Kano Airport by a man identified as Commandant, who insisted that the order was from above.
Amaechi, according to her, was forced to travel by road from Kano to Port Harcourt after the aircraft was grounded.
“Yesterday, my counterpart in Kano told me that the people at the airport said they were directed not to allow all non-scheduled aircrafts to take off or land. So, while the governor was there, I am also told, they began to lock all the gates to the exit of the airport and they locked the gates with the governor inside the aircraft.
“For the governor to exit the airport, somebody had to break the padlock of the gate. So, the governor and his team could leave. That amounts to imprisonment without charge.
“I got the Kano State Commissioner for State Affairs, who briefed me and told me that the chartered aircraft that conveyed the governor to Kano, was denied take-off from Aminu Kano International Airport by a fellow identified as the Commandant, acting on orders from above.
“That was the only information he (Kano State Commissioner for State Affiars) was willing to share when the governor enquired about what offence he and the aircraft operators had committed. With the governor was Alhaji Kawu Baraje as well as Senator Danjuma Goje, a former governor of Gombe State,” Semenitari added.
She pointed out that the ordeal of the state governor, Amaechi, did not portend well for the nation’s democracy.
Describing the incident at the Kano Airport as an ‘imprisonment’ of the governor, Semenitari, said the development was a wrong signal ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“More seriously is the fact that this does not portend well for our democracy. It does not portend well for us as we enter into the next election. A situation where newspapers are seized is the beginning of stifling Nigerians,” she stressed.
Amaechi had gone to condole with the Kano State Governor on the demise of the immediate past Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.