Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has lashed out at the Nigerian Air Force for neglecting the state after it bought two armoured helicopters worth over $10 million to be used in the fight against crude oil theft and sea piracy in the state.
Wike accused NAF of neglecting the state, diverting the helicopters and using it to fight Boko Haram in the North-East instead of the purpose for which it was bought.
Wike warned that the state will not hesitate to withdraw the gunboats it is about to present to the Army, Navy, and police if they are deployed for use in other states.
He stated this at the presentation of twenty-nine (29) operational vehicles to the police at the relaunch of the Rivers State security outfit, known as C.4.I, at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Thursday.
The governor explained that his administration has continually demonstrated its resolve to rid the state of criminality through the provision of operational vehicles, gunboats, and other forms of support for the security agencies.
He however expressed dismay that some of the equipment provided by the state government to support security agencies to fight crime are often diverted to other states at the detriment of Rivers State.
“Let the Nigerian Air Force know that Rivers State government gave them two armoured helicopters. The former Chief of Air Staff never wrote to thank us. Which state has done it for Nigerian Air Force in this country? Not one. Even while he was former Chief of Air Staff, he never came here to thank us. But he was using our armoured helicopters.”
He continued: “Rivers State government paid over $10 million (for the armoured helicopters). We said it should be used to fight oil bunkers here, but ask me where are those helicopters today? The (Air Force) headquarters have taken it, saying they are fighting Boko Haram. But we bought it to fight criminals here, to fight oil bunkers here, but they have taken it.”
Governor Wike said with the re-launch of C.4.I, a security outfit, the Rivers State Police Command should become more proactive in fighting crime. He urged the police and other security agencies to take the war against criminality to the criminals.
“We must take the war to them (criminals), let them know that enough is enough. All those people who think they can collect money from contractors, who think that they can kidnap contractors and threaten people, you must go after them. We can’t continue with this kid’s glove. Enough is enough. Don’t allow them to kill your men before you go after them.”
The governor disclosed that in the next few weeks, the state government will donate more operational vehicles and equipment to the C.4.I security outfit to enhance their operations. He said the state will also give five gunboats each to Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, and the police to tackle sea piracy.
“But let the gunboats remain within the territory of Rivers State. I am not here to buy gunboats for any other state. I am buying a gunboat for the protection of the people that do business and live in Rivers State and their property. Don’t carry our gunboat and say the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, IG said to bring the gunboat to so, so place. Every state is to protect its territory. The day I hear you take our gunboats to other states, I will collect them back.”
The governor assured the police personnel attached to the C.4.I unit that if they lose their lives in active service, the state government will take care of their families.
“Let me tell you what I will do for people of C.4.I. If any of you in course of this work, in course of fighting crime and criminality dies, Rivers state government will take care of your family.”
He disclosed that the state government will soon deliver the latest state-of-the-art equipment to the Department of State Services (DSS) to enhance their operational capability to track down criminals.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 16, Austin Agbonlahor, said the re-launch of C.4.I marks a new vista in the concerted fight against criminality.
He described security provision as expensive and commended Wike for his continued support for the police.
Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Friday Eboka said the 29 operational vehicles, 200 bulletproof vests, and helmets provided by the governor will serve as a morale booster for the personnel of the C.4.I as they strive to reduce criminal activities to their barest minimum in the state.