Minister of Transportation and former Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, lambasted Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State for playing politics with the safety and security of Rivers people.
Amaechi also said Wike was trying to mislead Nigerians over the purchase and importation of two helicopters into Nigeria by the past administration.
Wike had in a statement by his spokesman, Simeon Nwakaudu, said he officially wrote President Muhammadu Buhari, asking him to hand over the helicopters to the Air Force.
The governor said he took the step because of the high customs duties the helicopters attracted and the refusal of the Federal Government to grant waiver on the helicopters.
Reacting to claims by the governor Wike, Amaechi said: “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, the administration of 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.
“Sequel to the recommendation of security experts, the Rivers State Government bought the two Bell 412 security surveillance helicopters during 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 and then former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration granted waivers to the Rivers State Government to purchase and import the helicopters.
“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 criminals in the land and creeks of the state.
“President Jonathan’s administration frustrated and rebuffed all attempts by Amaechi and the Rivers State Government to take possession of the helicopters even when 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 President Jonathan’s administration acted the way it did. 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 Amaechi planned 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 President Jonathan and not to secure lives and property.”
Amaechi said it was worrisome that Governor Wike is trying to mislead Nigerians on what actually transpired over the purchase of the helicopters.
“It is indeed pathetic that Governor 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