The chartered aircraft that flew Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to Kano State on a condolence visit to Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has been grounded, a state official said.
The state commissioner for home affairs, Comrade Aminu Abdulsalam Gwarzo, told sympathisers who came to condole with Kwankwaso over the death of the former emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, at the government house, Kano, that the aircraft was grounded on “orders from above”.
But aviation sector spokesman, Mr. Yakubu Datti, denied that the aircraft was grounded by the federal authorities.
“Maybe the security situation in Kano might have affected the flight, but no aircraft was grounded by any aviation agency in Kano,” Datti told TheCable on phone.
Some youths opposed to the appointment of former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as the new emir had taken to the streets, making bonfires and causing general panic in the city shortly after the announcement Sunday evening.
The aircraft, which also conveyed the former governor of Gombe State, Senator Danjuma Goje, and the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, was said to have been grounded at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
All persons on board belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC), having defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year.
Their condolence visit coincided with the announcement of Sanusi as the new emir.
Sanusi’s appointment is seen as a blow to the ruling PDP, given his altercation with President Goodluck Jonathan which led to the suspension of the former CBN governor in February 2014.
Kwankwaso is one of the leading figures in APC and is thought to be preparing to run against Jonathan in 2015.
In April 2013, the aircraft of Rivers State was grounded at the Akure airport, Ondo State, in the heat of a face-off between a PDP faction and the president.
Amaechi had gone for the burial of the former deputy governor of Ekiti State, Mrs Funmilayo Olayinka, in Ekiti, in company with the speaker of the house of representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, when the aircraft was grounded by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).