Former Rivers state governor and current minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has admitted that the two helicopters seized by the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) was purchased under his administration.
Ameachi said the helicopters were purchased through the support of former president Goodluck Jonathan for security of lives and property in the state but all his efforts to take possession was frustrated by the current Governor Nyesome Wike when he was minister under Jonathan
On Friday,. Customs announced that the aircraft was seized in November and handed over to the force because the persons who imported them refused to show up and present end user certificates from the office of National Security Adviser(NSA)
Wike later issued a statement to debunk the claim that the importer of the helicopter was unknown.
He accused customs of “political propaganda and outright lies”.
But responding to Wike’s statement, Amaechi alleged that the incumbent Rivers governor lied to former President Goodluck Jonathan that the helicopters would be used to campaign against him.
Amaechi said the aircraft were procured for the purpose of combating crime in the state.
“Our attention has been drawn to misrepresentations and innuendoes as it concerns the immediate past governor of Rivers state and current minister of transportation Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in the purchase and importation of two helicopters into Nigeria that was supposedly abandoned at the Murtala Mohammed International airport, Lagos,” Amaechi said in a statement.
“Recall that when Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi took over as Governor of Rivers State, criminals masquerading as militants, kidnappers and all other criminal elements were on the prowl in Rivers state. With a strong political will to tackle these menaces and make the State a safe place, Amaechi initiated a lot of measures to deal with the menace.
“Purchasing these helicopters was one of the measures the Amaechi administration took to curb the clandestine and criminal activities in the state. And the decision to go for these helicopters was based on the advice and recommendation of security experts and specialists that were working closely with our Nigerian security agents to rid the state of these criminals- kidnappers, pipeline vandals, vicious political cultists etc.
“The federal government then was very impressed with the Amaechi administration’s security plan to curb criminality in the state and supported the plan all the way. To show their support, the federal government through the office of the NSA contributed $15M (Fifteen Million Dollars), about half of the total sum, towards the purchase of the helicopters.
“Also, the then former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration granted waivers to the Rivers state government to purchase and import the helicopters.”
He said when Rivers was ready to take possession of the helicopters, Jonathan’s government made a U-turn.
Amaechi accused Wike of being an “integral part, a major player in the whole conspiracy to block and prevent Rivers state government from taking possession of the helicopters”.
“However, trouble started many months later when the helicopters became ready for the Rivers state government to take possession of them and use them to fight crime and the criminals in the land and creeks of the state,” he said.
“The President Goodluck Jonathan administration frustrated and rebuffed all attempts by Amaechi and the Rivers State government to take possession of the helicopters.
“This strange twist was most baffling to the Rivers State government. It was obvious why the President Goodluck Jonathan administration acted the way it did.
“Then, as a minister in President Jonathan’s cabinet, Wike inundated President Jonathan with lies and fake stories of how then Governor Amaechi wanted to use the helicopters for Presidential campaigns against Jonathan, how Amaechi will use the helicopters to support President Jonathan’s opponents before and during the presidential elections and all sorts of concocted tales that created a false impression that the Amaechi government in Rivers state would use the helicopters against and to fight President Jonathan, and not to secure lives and property.
“Wike then, was already nursing the ambition to run for the office of Governor of Rivers State, he didn’t care about the security of lives and property.
“It is worrisome and indeed pathetic that Governor Nyesom Wike as usual, is again playing politics with the safety and security of Rivers people. The helicopters were procured by the Amaechi administration to curb the wanton menace of criminals in the State (which has since worsened under Wike’s watch), but in his usual habit, Governor Wike has decided to abandon and dump the helicopters, because he does not care about the safety and security of lives and property in the State. Sad, very sad.”