Governor Nyesom Wike has said the Rivers State government has through intelligence discovered a Legacy 600 aircraft owned by the state, which he said was flown to and abandoned in Germany since 2012 by the administration of former governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi.
He said it was unconscionable for the immediate past administration to have surreptitiously taken a state-owned asset to Germany and abandon same there, without any documentation.
The Governor revealed that the government had spent over €3 million (N1.4bn) in efforts to repair and retrieve the aircraft which had been abandoned for 10 years.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Kevin Ebiri, who revealed that Wike had led a delegation of Rivers leaders to General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany, where the aircraft had been abandoned.
Speaking during a meeting with the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, Wike explained that his administration, in a bid to recover state assets, had through intelligence discovered that the Legacy 600 jet purchased by the Dr Peter Odili’s administration was in Germany.
He said, “When we came into office in 2015, we never had an idea that our plane was in your facility. It was a matter of asking questions before we got the information that Legacy 600 belonging to our state is in RUAG, before General Atomics. We tried to make contact with you and which you obliged. So, we want to sincerely thank you for not hiding anything from us, because it is the property of the state government.
“This plane was bought in 2003 by the government of Dr Peter Odili, and by 2007 he had handed over to the next government which was my predecessor’s, now, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. While he was in office, by 2012 this plane was brought here. Reasons we do not know.”
Wike said there is no document indicating that the state-owned aircraft was flown to Germany and abandoned for inexplicable reasons.
“The issue is, why was there no documentation to let the incoming government to know that we have this facility and we sent it to RUAG for inspection? Again, I do know from experience that inspection of such facility does not take more than six months. So, if it was brought in 2012, expectantly at least, by early 2013, the plane ought to have come back for use,” he said.
The Governor said he had to travel to Munich, Germany, with a state delegation to prove that the Legacy 600 aircraft has been discovered and about to be returned to the state government.
Those on the governor’s entourage included, the Speaker Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani; Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ehie Ogerenye Edison; Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor; member of House of Representatives, Hon. Ken Chikere; Rivers State chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, Ambassador Desmond Akawor; Chairman, Ikwerre LGA, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike among others.
Speaking, the General Manager, Business Development, General Atomics Aerotec, Markus Froetschi, confirmed that the aircraft was brought to Germany by the immediate past administration and abandoned since 2012.
The statement continued, “He expressed delight that Governor Wike took the initiative to repair and return the aircraft to Nigeria for use by the state government. According to him, his company will be done with general maintenance work and deliver the aircraft to the State government by March.
“The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, said he was elated that the aircraft has been recovered by the state government. According to him, state lawmakers will continue to support every effort to recover all government assets and property.”
Similarly, the Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ehie Ogerenye Edison, described the abandonment of the aircraft in Germany as administrative recklessness.
“We are surprised that this is more than seven years that the aircraft has been here. Their intention we cannot say for such, but it shows administrative recklessness, and worst of all, there is no proper documentation to show Rivers government as at then, meant well for Rivers people,” he said.
According to the Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Samuel Nwanosike, considering the brazen manner at which the immediate past administration sold state valuable assets to their cronies, it was obvious that the Legacy 600 was surreptitiously flown to Germany to be converted to personal use.