By JIMITOTA ONOYUME, Port Harcourt
RIVERS state government has dismissed as untrue allegations in some quarters that the government recently acquired armored helicopters and private jets ahead of 2015 elections.
In a statement issued yesterday by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, the government explained that it jointly purchased two helicopters with the Federal Government to enhance security operations in the state and not for elections as alleged.
“The helicopters: 2 bell 412 helicopters with camera payload for aerial surveillance of Rivers State were purchased as part of the State Government’s collaboration with the Federal Government and its support for the security agencies in the state.
“The total cost of the helicopters was 29 million USD. The Federal Government of Nigeria through the office of the National Security Adviser paid 15 million USD, while the Rivers State Government paid the balance. The Federal Government granted duty waiver. The choppers are being freighted into Nigeria and will be reassembled in Lagos.
“The helicopters are to be operated by the Nigerian police in conjunction with the oil companies who have offered to bear some of the operating cost to enable government combat the menace of oil bunkering.
“The police took delivery of similar choppers in 2012 built by the same company.
“The 412 four axis choppers are rated the most advanced civil helicopters in the world. The acquisition, which was done with the support of the federal government, is to enhance security of lives and property in Rivers State.
“One finds it therefore very disturbing that anyone will trivialize a matter as serious as the security of not just the lives of Rivers people but also the commonwealth of all Nigerians.
“Finally, the Rivers State government wishes to acknowledge and thank the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his quick action and amazing support leading to the purchase of these helicopters. His commitment to national security and willingness to collaborate with all tiers of government and all sectors to ensure the security of lives and property is worthy of accolade and support.” the government said.
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