9 September 2009

Nigeria: Govt-Israel in U.S.$25 Million Arms Deal

Abuja — A deal worth $25 million has been concluded between Israel Shipyards and the Nigerian defense ministry for the manufacture and delivery of two Shaldag patrol boats, an Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

One boat has already been delivered and Nigerian crews have been trained in Israel by Israeli instructors who will provide further training in Nigeria

The report is coming just as the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman is in Nigeria as part of his tour of African countries that will also take him to Ethiopia, Angola, Uganda and Kenya. He is reportedly accompanied by dozens of businessmen, most of them arms dealers, as well as security advisers and representatives of the military industries.

Amit Sadeh, the middleman in the $25million deal, was involved in the controversial sale of air and sea drones by the Yavneh-based Aeronautics Ventures to the Nigerian defense ministry, as well as the sale of used planes from Ukraine to Nigeria.

Sadeh also represents Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), whose Ramta subsidiary competed for the same deal. IAI as well as the CEO of Israel Shipyards, Avi Shahaf, declined to comment, while Sadeh was not available.

The deals, according to the Haaretz newspaper, have put Israel in the position of interfering in an internal Nigerian dispute that could lead to civil war. The boats and intelligence equipment are intended for the use of Nigerian forces against rebels in the Niger River Delta region.

In an interview with Haaretz last year, a spokesman for the rebels warned Israel not to go ahead with the sales.

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