River State Govt Bares Story Behind Purchase of Controversial Aircraft
Against the backdrop of recent persecutio by various federal aviation agencies ostensibly on the instruction of the Presidency over the purchase and operation of a private jet owned by the Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s administration, the Rivers state government again yesterday bare it all and put a lie to different accusations and allegations from agents of the President Jonathan administration.
The state government at a press briefing addressed today by Ibim Semenitari, the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Rivers State gave the full details of the purchase of the controversial aircraft which has now been grounded indefinitely by the federal government. The statement reads:
“The Rivers State Government has noticed with dismay a series of statements attributed to officials of different agencies in the aviation sector on the status of the aircraft belonging to the Rivers State Government, a Bombardier BD 700 Global Express jet.
It is pertinent to note that all of the information and queries about this aircraft have only been through the mass media. The Rivers State Government has not received any communication from the Ministry of Aviation or any of its agencies querying the status of its aircraft even up till this moment.
The Rivers State Government is surprised to read about matters of administrative procedure and allegations of illegality and abuse of process in the media.
The Rivers state government wishes to note that this press conference and the various issues raised arose only after the embarrassing incident of a delay of the aircraft and its passengers at Akure on Friday, April 26, 2013
The Rivers State Government wishes to note also that the issues raised in this press briefing will be the third reason adduced for the delay of the Rivers State Government’s aircraft in Akure.
However, for purposes of clarification and in keeping with its policy of rendering “transparent and accountable stewardship” to Rivers people, we would wish to state the following for the avoidance of doubt:
1) Aircraft N 566 RS arrived Nigeria and has been operating since October 2012.
2) It was bought by Rivers State Government and registered as a US Aircraft in the first instance, to preserve value and provide ease of operation and sourcing of available pilots.
3) To qualify for N registration, operator must be a US citizen hence RVSG entered into a trust with Bank of Utah Inc, a bank that specialises in Aircraft trust.
4) The relationship between the state government and Bank of Utah is that of a trustor and trustee. All N registered Aircrafts enjoy the privileges of a US citizen,
5) Trust agreement for the purpose of N registration is common in the aviation industry.
6) It is important to state that there are other aircraft owners in Nigeria with N registered aircraft. This practice is because of the ease of movement that N registered aircraft are privileged to enjoy. We do not therefore understand why Rivers State Government has been singled out.
7) The clearance referred to was PH- Accra- PH and not Accra PH Accra as stated.
8) Aircraft was being operated through a local operator, Caverton Helicopters, pending approval of importation licence by Minister of Aviation.
9) Request for this license was filed by the operator on behalf of the Rivers State government and this was expressly stated in the request filed on August 27, 2012 and received in the Minister’s office on September 4,2012.
10) The Rivers State government is a responsible sub national and guardian of the resources of its people. It will at all times and in all circumstances act within the confines of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
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