Customs playing politics with Rivers’ helicopters
• Chopers Were Paid For By Amaechi Govt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has described as shocking, the claim by the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) that it had impounded two armoured helicopters the state procured to fight piracy and sundry crimes.
Wike revealed that he officially wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting that the two armoured helicopters bought by the immediate past administration in the state be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
The governor explained that he wrote the letter following the high custom duty charged on the helicopters, and the refusal of the present administration to grant the state government waiver to clear the armoured crafts.
“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 state government get money at this time to import armoured helicopters? The previous administration imported it because it had the money.
“I went 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,” Wike said.
He continued: “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. 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 would be recalled that immediate past governor, Rotimi Amaechi in December 2012 announced the payment for two helicopters for security surveillance.