…..Hands over to NAF
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport Command of Nigerian Customs Service ( NCS), has impounded two Bell civil models Bell Helicopters imported into the country by unknown importers.
The Lagos Airport Area Controller of customs, Mr. Frank Allanah who disclosed to newsmen said the duty paid value of the two helicopters and other accessories is over N9,757,135,240.86.
The two Bell Helicopters were handed over to the Nigerian Air Force for failure by the unknown importers to produce end user certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser ( NSA) in contravention of Section 36 ( 2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act .
During the hand over, the Lagos airport area controller, said the helicopters were flown in as a consignment with Airway Bill Number 17232444403 into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
He said the chopper will be useful to the Nigerian Air Force in the fight against insurgency as the chopper were specially designed for such operations .
The choppers according to him, were detained at the Skyways Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) shed pending fulfillment of all legal requirements for the importation .
The area controller, noted that upon examination, the consignment was found to contain two civil models 412 EP of serial numbers 36608 and 36606 Bell Helicopters respectively , in standard configuration and 23 packages said to contain their accessories weighing eleven thousand four hundred and seventy five kilogrammes ( 11,075 kg).
Giving further insight into the seized choppers , he said all legal issues were considered before the Customs Authorities carried out the exercise.
Speaking during the hand over , the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the two Bell choppers and accessories would be taken to the Nigerian Air Force hangar at the Lagos Airport for full examination in collaboration with Customs officials.
He described the handover as a milestone , because the configuration of the aircraft is fitted for military combat operations.
According to him, the presidential approval for the release of the two helicopters to the Nigerian Air Force would assist to fight the war against insurgency and internal security engagement.
It is alleged in some quarters in the industry that the two Bell Helicopters were imported by Rivers State Government toward the end of the Rotimi Amaechi government who is currently the minister of transportation.
It also alleged that the transactions may not have been documented, forcing the current administration to concede that the choppers be handed over to the Nigerian Air Force.
However an official of SAHCOL, under the guise of anonymity said he could confirm the choppers were imported by Rivers State Government but that Customs reserves the right to seize any aircraft or imported item if the importer fails to show up for clearance and payment of necessary duty on the consignment .