The Federal Government contributed $15 million to purchase of the two controversial surveillance helicopters by the Rivers State Government, during the tenure of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
A statement by the Amaechi Media Office yesterday said the former governor and now minister of transportation procured the helicopters with support of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to tackle worsening security situations in the state.
The statement said: “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.
“To show their support, the Federal Government through the office of the NSA contributed $15m, about half of the total sum, towards the purchase of the helicopters. “Also, the then former President Jonathan administration granted waivers to the Rivers State government to purchase and import the helicopters.”
The statement said trouble started after the former president was allegedly told that Amaechi was planning to use the helicopters to campaign for an opposition presidential candidate saying “trouble started many months later when the helicopters became ready for the Rivers State Government to take possession of them and use 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.”
The statement cautioned that such issue of securing the lives of the people of Rivers State should not be politicised.
The helicopters were recently siezed by the Nigeria Customs Service and handed to the Nigerian Air Force.