- There has been a lingering controversy over the ownership of two seized amoured helicopters currently grounded at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport
- Governor Nyesom Wike had said his government wrote the Buhari administration to take possession of the helicopters, but Amaechi has revealed more about the issue
The controversies surrounding the two armoured helicopters belonging to the Rivers state government and seized by security agencies may not end soon as a former governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi, has presented his own side of the story.
According to Amaechi, now the minister of Transport under President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration as governor of the state was prevented by Nyesom Wike and former President Goodluck Jonathan from taking possession of the helicopters.
The helicopters have since been abandoned at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
Wike, now the governor of Rivers state, was the minister of Education under Jonathan and the administration had a tough political battle with Amaechi.
Wike had recently told some editors that he actually asked the Buhari-led administration to take possession of the helicopters since the latter prevented the state from owning them probably for political reasons.
READ ALSO: Gunmen murder APC chieftain in Rivers
In a response from Amaechi’s media office made available to NAIJ.com, the minister accused Wike of misrepresenting the facts on the issue.
“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 the 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.
“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 statement said.
The statement said the two Bell 412 security surveillance helicopters were bought by the administration of 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,” Amaechi said adding that the Jonathan administration frustrated and rebuffed all attempts by the then governor to take possession of the helicopters.
The minister recalled how he spoke loudly about the refusal of the President Jonathan to allow the state government to take possession of the security surveillance helicopters.
“It was about security; the safety of lives and property, but the Jonathan administration refused and bluntly blocked the Rivers state government from taking possession of the helicopters, the same helicopters the federal government had months back partly funded and had granted approvals and waivers for the purchase and importation into the country.
“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 the 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 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; his grand plot was to use the criminals, political cultists and criminal militants to harass, intimidate, terrorize, maim and even kill his political opponents and those that refused to support or vote for him before, during and after the elections,” the statement added saying Wike knew early that “he needed these criminal elements to rig his way into the government House, so he did everything to ensure that these criminals will be always available for him to use.”