The two Bell Helicopters and their accessories handed over to the Nigerian Air Force yesterday.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has owned up that the two helicopters impounded by the Nigeria Customs Service were imported by his state during the administration of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Governor revealed that he officially wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari asking that the two armoured helicopters be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
He explained that he wrote the letter following the high custom duty charged for the helicopters and the refusal of the present administration to grant the Rivers State Government waiver to clear the two armoured helicopters.
A statement issued by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media informed that the governor spoke during an interview with editors of Sun Newspapers Titles on Saturday in Port Harcourt.
The governor said that it was unfortunate that Security Agencies would resort to political propaganda and outright lies, when the facts about the two armoured helicopters are public knowledge.
He said: “These helicopters were imported by the immediate past administration. When I assumed office, we wrote to the Federal government that it was strictly for security use. What am I going to use armoured helicopters for?
“In any case, where will the Rivers State Government get money at this time to import armoured helicopters. The previous administration imported it because they had the money.
“I went to to the Federal Government to give me a waiver for us to clear the helicopters, but the Federal Government refused.
“I wrote a letter to the President and to assure him that the helicopters are meant for security purposes, it should be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force “.
The governor added: “I am surprised that they have started propaganda and political falsehood on the said armoured helicopters. What kind of country are they turning Nigeria into ?
“We stated that we cannot pay the custom duties because the helicopters are not for commercial use. They are to be used to monitor the creeks and track criminals.
“I wrote to the President to give the helicopters to the Airforce. It is shocking that the custom would turn around to claim that they impounded the helicopters. The Chief of Staff to the President admitted that I have done well when I wrote the letter to the President “.
It will be recalled that the immediate past Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi in December 2012 announced the payment of two helicopters for security surveillance.