Two former commissioners in Rivers State have accused the governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike of lying about the state-owned Legacy 600 aircraft alleged to have been abandoned in Germany since 2012 during the administration of Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, now minister of transportation
Recall that Wike had recently led a delegation of Rivers leaders to General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany, where the aircraft, according to him, had been abandoned for 10 years.
The governor said in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Kelvin Ebiri that the aircraft was discovered through intelligence gathering adding that efforts to repair and retrieve the aircraft would cost the state government €3 million.
Reacting to the issue, former commissioner of transport in the state, Mr. Tolofari George, said the governor lied that Amaechi abandoned the aircraft in Germany.
He said in a statement that Wike’s allegation was aimed at smearing the minister.
“Once again, in his characteristic mischievous style, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has sought to malign and attack his predecessor and erstwhile benefactor, the minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi by making false allegations.
“This time the governor claims that his predecessor secretly abandoned an aircraft belonging to the Rivers State Government in Germany.
“The lie in the Rivers State Government rant is so obvious. It is simply not possible that a plane that was properly documented in the handover notes of the state ministry of transport (which I supervised as commissioner) to the incoming administration in 2015 can be said to be secretly abandoned. How?
“When we got the new aircraft that the current government is using now, the older Legacy aircraft was sent to Germany for repairs and refurbishment and then to be sold to generate revenue for critical infrastructural projects in the state.
To the previous administration, there was no economic sense to keep and maintain two state planes. The cost was just too prohibitive, so the plan was to sell off the older legacy plane,” George said.
He stated that the aircraft was already in the European country as of the time Amaechi handed over to Wike in 2015 and was captured in the handover note.
“In 2015 when the new administration took over, they claimed the same aircraft had been stolen. Today, they are now saying again that the aircraft was secretly abandoned.
“We can now all see that the issue is purely political and vindictive, hurling false allegations on the previous administration. That the legacy aircraft was in RUAG, Germany was written in my handover note that is in the custody of the Rivers State Government,” he added.
Similarly, a former commissioner for agriculture in Amaechi’s administration, Mr. Emmanuel Chinda debunked Wike’s claims saying the present administration in the state was aware of what transpired.
He said documentation was done before the aircraft was flown to Germany adding that the aircraft was taken for maintenance
“He (Wike) has been talking about Rivers State’s plane for the past four years now. As usual, what he did was to take his friends to use tax payers’ money as they have always done, to go for their meeting.
“If it is not so, tell me which aviation expert was in that delegation he took to Germany. What you see there are group of politicians for his ‘Wike for President’ or for governors’ comity of friends.
“When we were in government, that aircraft got bad and it was taken overseas for repairs. I don’t know how long it would have taken to come back, but there was a proper documentation done before it was taken out of the country.
“It wouldn’t have been successfully taken out of the country without documentation. A proper documentation was done and that was how Wike was able to trace it to that place.
“The aircraft was bad and was sent for maintenance. Aircraft is not taxi that you handle anyhow. It went for maintenance and there was proper documentation,” he stated.