26th January, 2022
Tofolari George, a former Commissioner of Transport in Rivers has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of lying over his claim that his predecessor who is also the incumbent Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi secretly abandoned an aircraft owned by the state government in Germany.
Wike had made the claim during his visit to the premises of RUAG, the German company which has been keeping the aircraft since 2015.
The Governor said he has already spend three million euros to repair the air its discovery.
But in a statement on Wednesday, George said the claims by the Governor were false allegations intended to malign his his predecessor and to malign and attack his predecessor and erstwhile benefactor, Amaechi.
While faulting Wike’s claims, George said the existence of the air craft and its location in Germany were documented in the handover reports which he authored and handed over to Wike government in 2015 as commissioner for transport.
He said, “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. The plane was still in Germany at the time we handed over to the incoming administration.
“Everything was in the handover notes of the ministry of transport. 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 notes that is in the custody of the Rivers state government.
“In 2015 when they made an issue of Rivers state having two air craft, and that one has been stolen, I issued a press release which reiterated that the aircraft was in Germany.
“Sometime last year, a staff of Rivers State government got in touch with me, asking questions about the aircraft. I clearly told him where it was. So, I just don’t understand what this current fuss is about?
“We couldn’t have taken an aircraft to Germany and just dump it there and walk away without proper and formal documentation. Is RUAG, Germany a dumping ground?
“I recalled that Rivers State government had made an issue of the new aircraft currently in use, having a United States registration number, accusing the past government of wanting to steal the aircraft.
“They accused us of doing an N registration for the sole purpose of wanting to steal the aircraft. They made so much fuss at the time. But till date, which is nearly 7 years after taking possession of the aircraft, they are still using the the same foreign registration. Why haven’t they changed it to Nigerian registration?
“The whole information about that aircraft – the Legacy plane, was in the handover notes prepared by the ministry for the incoming administration in 2015, including the fact that the plane was to be sold, because it was more economical to sell it off.”