The Lagos State Government has responded to speculations that it repurchased one of the three helicopters Governor Akinwunmi Ambode presented to the police at a ceremony where President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau.
Recent online media reports alleged that the government repurchased the Bell 412EP Helicopter 5N-LAG, which was procured by the Babatunde Fashola administration via deductions from the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, and passed it off as new.
Speaking exclusively with Qed.ng, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, asked, How could a government purchase a helicopter from itself?”
Reminded that the budget for all the security equipment handed over to the police is similar to the N4.7billion the Senate is spending on cars, Mr Ayorinde said, “The Lagos State Government never said it purchased three new helicopters. We could not have purchased three brand new helicopters for N4.8bn which was the cost of the entire donations made to RRS.
“What we did was to donate three helicopters to the RRS to fight crime. The three included one from the two purchased by the former administration after it was refurbished. The other one from the former administration was traded-in to the manufacturers in exchange for a brand new one and we purchased a brand new one separately, making three.
“Getting the cost of a brand new helicopter is readily available on the internet and should not be a subject of conjecture. Rather than continue to use the two old helicopters for commercial services as was being done, what we did was to donate all three – two new and one refurbished – to the RRS to fight crime.”
While commending the media’s role in making “Lagos work beyond some people’s expectation”, Ayorinde added that greater success will be achieved if the correct information is fed to the public.
Ambode on November 27 handed over security equipment and vehicles to the State Police Command and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), charging them to ensure that the equipment are deployed effectively to tackle criminal activities as residents will no longer accept excuses.
The governor put the total cost of acquiring 100 four-door salon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-ups, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, 15 BMW power bikes, 100 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, three helicopters, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers, revolving lights, siren and public address system, vehicular radio communicators, security gadgets including bullet proof vests, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms, kits and improved insurance and death benefit schemes for officers at N4.765bn.
He said with the new development, the Lagos State Police Command has been repositioned to compare to similar outfits in other modern city states, expressing optimism that the equipment will go a long way to aid security agencies respond faster to crime.