Nigerian Air Force receives two impounded helicopters
The aircraft were handed over on 27 January. Customs Area Controller Frank Allanah told journalists that the helicopters were detained after “The unknown importer could not produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), an act which contravenes section 36 sub section two Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004. Consequently seizure was effected on November 7, 2016.”
Allanah said the helicopters and accessories were worth N9,757,135,240.86 ($30 million). The two helicopters are partially disassembled, with no rotor blades or tail booms.
However, it seems when the helicopters were imported they were supposed to bypass import duties but things did not go according to plan, and this was compounded by a change in governors. According to Nigeria’s Punch, the helicopters were ordered by Rivers State to protect oil and gas facilities and were equipped with night vision equipment, armour plating and cameras.
Rivers State in September 2015 asked Customs to release the helicopters and in March 2016 asked the Nigerian Air Force to request the helicopters as gifts for the NAF.
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Rivers State Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike told The Guardian that he approached the Federal Government to “give us a waiver for us to clear the helicopters, but the Federal Government refused. I wrote a letter to the President and to assure him that the helicopters are meant for security purposes, it should be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
“We stated that we couldn’t pay the custom duties because the helicopters are not for commercial use. They are to be used to monitor the creeks and track criminals. I wrote to the President to give the helicopters to the Air Force. It is shocking that the custom would turn around to claim that they impounded the helicopters,” Wike said.
Air Commodore Hyacinth Eze said the helicopters would help the NAF discharge its responsibilities and assist in the fight against insurgency and militancy. He said the war on terrorism is being won largely through increased emphasis being placed on the Nigerian Air Force.
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