Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has narrated how he was detained and escaped from Kano after his plane made an air return due to bad weather at Abuja Airport.
Governor Amaechi visited Kano on Sunday on a condolence visit, following the death of the late emir, Ado Bayero.
His return to Kano, however, led to the grounding of the private jet in which he was travelling.
The governor said even when they came down from the aircraft, they were not allowed to leave the airport by the officials who claimed to be acting on orders from above.
But the regulatory agency, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, swiftly denied reports that it grounded the plane which took Amaechi to Kano.
A source close to the agency said: “NCAA is not connected to the grounding of the aircraft. I think the order could be from the presidency or did you see NCAA in your report.”
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, also denied issuing the order for the grounding of the aircraft.
A NAMA source, however, stressed that the aircraft in question was not the controversial aircraft earlier grounded by the aviation authorities last year that was only released a week ago, adding that the aircraft was currently parked in Port Harcourt.
However, Governor Amaechi told Vanguard yesterday that those with him had to break the exit gates, made a dash through the night for Abuja by road and arrived in the early hours of yesterday.
Governor Amaechi was with Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Shaban Lafiagi and erstwhile national chairman of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, when the incident happened on Sunday evening hours after Sanusi was named as 57th Emir of Kano.
Danjuma and Lafiagi, both serving senators, were former governors of Gombe and Kwara states, respectively.
The presence of Governor Amaechi and other top chieftains of All Progressives Congress, APC, earlier in the day in Kano, it was reported, was to put pressure on the authorities in Kano to push for the emergence of Sanusi as emir.
Amaechi, however, denied the insinuations, saying he only came for a condolence visit. The reported lobby of the APC chieftains was in the face of alleged similar moves by sympathisers of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to stop Sanusi, who had lately emerged as a vicious critic of the Federal Government.
Noting his experience in an interview with Vanguard, Governor Amaechi said: “We made contact with the tower to depart and they said we cannot leave, that the airport commandant said that no private jet can leave or enter Kano today.
“We thought it was a joke. We then called the airport commandant and I again called the governor to intervene and the governor called the commandant who said that it was the order he got from Abuja.
“Then five minutes after, they locked us inside the airport. They locked all the exits to the airport and we had to break the key to one of the exits and then we stepped out.
“We had to take a big decision. We called the governor who said he was sending cars to bring us to Government House and we said okay. But we made a decision that when the cars (from Government House) come, we would tell them to go back and not to tell the governor where we are.
“So we entered our car, got instruction to put off our phones and I drove from Kano to Abuja. We arrived Abuja 2a.m.
“We arrived after the announcement and we were impounded because they did not get what they wanted.
“The kingmakers selected Sanusi as number one, Ado Bayero as number two. Do I know any kingmaker? We all went for condolence visit.”
He also denied any role in the emergence of Sanusi as the Emir of Kano.
“We are in a dictatorship and it is supposed to be a democracy and everybody has a right to disagree with the President,” Amaechi added.