Amaechi tongue-tied as Wike makes more stunning revelations about helicopters

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, yesterday hit his predecessor and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, over the purchase of armed helicopters.

Wike stated that the failure of Amaechi to provide good governance as governor of Rivers State for eight years was responsible for the purchase of armoured helicopters.

The governor, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, stated that his state was not at war with any country to have warranted the purchase of weapons of war.

“The immediate past Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, could not provide the people of Rivers State with good governance, that was why he had to recourse to the purchase of armoured helicopters.

“Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has no need for armoured helicopters because he has provided the good people of Rivers State with good governance and they are happy with him.

“In any case, Rivers State is not at war with any country, hence there is no need for armoured helicopters. “Governor Wike will continue to deliver good governance to the Rivers people. This has led to the improvement of security, despite the evil political machinations of Amaechi and his cohorts,” Wike stated.

Meanwhile, Amaechi has said that former President Goodluck Jonathan prevented the state government from taking possession of the two bulletproof helicopters he bought while serving as governor.

Amaechi made the allegation after Wike said that the state was yet to take possession of the helicopters despite writing President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to receive the helicopters to boost security surveillance along the waterways.

In a statement, the Transport Minister said that Jonathan was aware of the purchase of the helicopters, because it was purchased through the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), but still frustrated the state from getting deliveries of the helicopters.

He said: “Sequel to the recommendation of security experts, the Rivers State Government bought the two Bell 412 security surveillance helicopters during the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, in collaboration with the Federal Government through the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).

“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 $15 million, 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.

“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. “The President Goodluck Jonathan administration frustrated and rebuffed all attempts by Amaechi and the Rivers State government to take possession of the helicopters.

“Note that the said helicopters were partly funded by the federal government and that would be operated and managed by federal security agencies in collaboration with the Rivers State government.

“It was obvious why the President Goodluck Jonathan administration acted the way it did and Nyesom Wike, the present Governor of Rivers State was an integral part, a major player in the whole conspiracy to block and prevent Rivers State government from taking possession of the helicopters.

“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.”

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had, on Friday, said it intercepted two helicopters and 23 consignments of accessories illegally imported into the country. Mr. Dan Ugo, a Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, told newsmen in Lagos that the two helicopters and accessories, valued at N9.7 billion, were impounded at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport.

“The consignment was detained at SAHCOL cargo shed. Upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models of Bell Helicopters 412 EP, with serial numbers 36608 and 36606.

“The consignment also contains 23 packages of accessories, weighing 11,475kg,” the customs boss said.He said that the two helicopters and other accessories were seized because the importer could not provide End User Certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). Ugo said that the importer had contravened Section 36 (2) of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004. According to him, the consignment, which was impounded on November 7, 2016, had a Duty Paid Value of N9, 757,135,240.86.

“This equipment was seized because the importer contravened the Customs Act. “The Comptroller General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, in appreciation of the roles of Air Force, has directed that the equipment should be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force,” Ugo said. Air Commodore Hyacinth Eze received the consignment on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.

But Wike said he officially wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to hand over two armoured helicopters seized by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to Nigeria Air Force (NAF). The governor’s claim contradicts the claim of NCS that the owner of the aircraft was not known.

Wike, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Nwakaudu, in Port Harcourt on Saturday, said he wrote the president because of high custom duties and refusal of the Federal Government to grant waiver on the helicopters.

He said: “These helicopters were imported by the immediate past administration; and when I assumed office, we wrote to the Federal Government that the helicopters were strictly for security use.

“I went to the Federal Government to give me waiver for us to clear the helicopters, but they refused. “Thereafter, I wrote to President Buhari to assure him that the helicopters are meant for security purpose and that it should be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force.

“We stated that we cannot pay the custom duties because the helicopters are not for commercial use; but to monitor the creeks and track criminals.

“In any case, where will the Rivers Government get money at this time to import armoured helicopters to which the previous administration imported because it had money (at the time). “I’m surprised that they have started propaganda and political falsehood on the said armoured helicopters.

“What am I going to use armoured helicopters for; what kind of country are they turning Nigeria into?” he asked. Wike said it was unfortunate that some security agencies would allegedly resort to political propaganda and outright lies when facts of the seized armoured helicopters were known.
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