26 July 2014

Nigeria: FG Orders 40 Attack Helicopters From U.S., Russia to Fight Terrorism

Photo: NAF
Nigerian Air Force

In its determination to eliminate terrorism and smoke out Boko Haram members from their hide outs in parts of the North East and North West, the Federal Government has ordered 40 attack and transport helicopters from the United States of America and Russia.

In a related development, the military has arrested a man suspected to be connected to the twin explosions in Kaduna on Wednesday, which allegedly targeted the leader of All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and a cleric, Sheik Bauchi

Reliable sources in the Presidency revealed that some of the attack helicopters ordered would arrive in the country as early as next month while the remaining "will be received certainly before the end of the year to boost the Nigerian Air Force."

The source added: "The arrival of the weaponry before the end of the year will be a game changer as it will help to ensure successful execution of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, especially against the Boko Haram terrorists.

"Some military and other security forces are currently frustrated about their inability to storm the notorious Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram militants are keeping the abducted Chibok secondary school girls and also serving as operational headquarters of the group.

"The reason, according to the findings, is that security operatives are not only aware of the locations of the girls but are also closely monitoring the way that the girls are being moved around but are afraid of the backlash should any harm befall the girls in the course of a forced rescue."

Also confirming the planned purchase, a top security source who pleaded for anonymity noted: "Past incidences during attempts to rescue British and Italian nationals in Sokoto and SETRACO workers which boomerang are the reasons that the security forces have been reluctant in storming the forest and rescuing the girls.

"I wish we could have a consensus of opinion from Nigerians that we should storm the forest and rescue the girls. The day Nigerians decide on that with one voice, to clear the forest will take less than one week". Already, security forces have succeeded in ridding Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa and part of Bauchi states of Fulani cattle rustlers. These have been completely eliminated."

The source stated further that although terrorism like any asymmetric wars have proven to be difficult to combat anywhere in the world, "the Nigerian security forces would have found it easier to deal with it, had there not been politicisation of the issue."

THISDAY had exclusively reported two weeks ago that the Federal Government amongst other weaponry, had purchased two highly sophisticated Helicopter Gunships, which are due to arrive the country next month. According to a source within the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA), these choppers also include night vision technology to enable soldiers monitor and take out the terrorists who move mainly at night to carry out their dastardly acts.

The source added: "In fact, we now have the latest aircraft for surveillance and intelligence gathering. More of these weapons are on their way but these (helicopters) are for urgent purposes. I can assure you that more equipment are coming; serious ones."

In a related development, a military source confirmed THISDAY's report that a special unit of counter-terrorism forces had just been trained under an international agreement and are ready to be fully deployed to volatile areas of terrorism activities. Military arrests suspect disguised as woman...

Meanwhile, the military yesterday arrested a man suspected to be connected to the twin explosions in Kaduna on Wednesday, which allegedly targeted the leader of All Progressives Congress, General Muhammadu Buhari and a cleric, Sheik Bauchi.

According to a statement by the Defence Headquarters, the young man who was apprehended by a military patrol team that swooped on the area after the explosion, disguised as a woman clad in female garb to exude femininity with a brazier affixed to his chest.

The DHQ said that the suspect was arrested while trying to fizzle into a crowd of onlookers. It further revealed that youths in the area attempted to mob him while he was being arrested but were restrained by troops who quickly whisked him away in an armoured personnel carrier. "He is currently being interrogated by security agencies in a bid to ascertain his links", the report noted.

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu has also commended the gallantry of the officers who survived the recent Helicopter crash in Borno State. Amosu who gave the commendation while receiving the officers, thanked God for sparing their lives and commiserated with them on the loss of their colleague.

He assured them of the support of Government and the Nigerian Air Force to the bereaved family.

Amosu emphasised the need for all service personnel to continue to give selfless sacrifice for the defence of the sovereignty of the nation despite the enormity of current security challenges. He enjoined the officers not to be deterred as the President was committed to providing all necessary requirements of the military in tackling the terrorists with a view to bringing the menace to a speedy end.

He added: "The Commander-in-Chief has accordingly, ordered the immediate replacement of the lost helicopter and more platforms for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF)."

The Air Force Chief also stressed that the Air Force would do everything to sustain the current synergy between the Air Force and the Army as this was the surest approach to victory in the campaign against terror. Amosu has also paid a condolence visit to the family of late Flight Lieutenant Nwakile in Kano.

Presidency, Sultan caution politicians Also yesterday, the Presidency and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar 111 cautioned politicians to stop politicising the security challenges in the country.

Reacting to the twin-bomb attack in Kaduna where the former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and Sheik Dahiru Bauchi escaped unhurt, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, bemoaned the trading of blames by politicians over the incident.

Speaking during his inaugural visit to the secretariat of Goodluck Support Group (GSG), Alkali said Nigerians must work collectively to tackle security challenges in the country.

While commiserating with the victims of the insurgency in the country, Alkali debunked the allegation by some members of the All Progressives Congress linking the attack on Buhari and Sheik Bauchi to the presidency.

Alkali said: "I want to express my sincere concern over what happened to our former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari. It is by the grace of God that today, the lives of these two senior citizens were spared. We want to thank God for saving them and for saving this country from the trauma of what could have happened if the people behind it had achieved their objective. "I want to also state that in season like this, the usual thing is what has become the popular culture of blame game. I don't think anybody in this country would be associated with a thing like that in any way or form. Therefore, those who want to trivialize these issues, or attribute them to this government or the leadership of this government in any form, directly or indirectly, should desist from that."

The Sultan of Sokoto charged security agencies in the country to be proactive and keep away from politics.

Speaking at a dinner organised for heads of security agencies in the state in his palace in Sokoto yesterday night, the monarch decried "the way and manner some politicians were trivialising issues of insecurity by narrowing it to ethnicity and religion."

He emphasised that it would be difficult to proffer solutions to the security challenges bedeviling the country when politicians view issues of insecurity with narrow prism.

"We have been telling our politicians to stop trivialising and politicising security issues by narrowing it to ethnicity and religion. As long as politicians keep on narrowing issues of insecurity to Islam, Christianity, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba or Ijaw, then it will be difficult to solve the problem.

"All Nigerians must come together irrespective of religion and tribe to defeat this insurgency and I believe we will win," the monarch stated. He described the bomb blasts that rocked Kaduna and Kano states as unfortunate and stressed the need for security agents in the state to be proactive and not to take things for granted.

"As you are aware, without security you cannot do anything let alone worship your God. Your role as security agents is very important and when you are doing your duty, there should be no friend, no enemy and no godfather.

"As security agents, you cannot be serving only those in power but should remain apolitical and dedicated to service to the state and country," he advised.

He urged heads of security agencies in the state to collaborate by sharing intelligence and information in order to ensure adequate security in the state. According to him, the inter-rivalry among security agencies was the cause of failure in gathering intelligence to effectively combat the insurgency ravaging the country.

The Sultan to this end, called on the political leadership in the country, to do whatever it takes to ensure that this inter-rivalry among security agencies was brought to the barest minimum. "When the State Security Service has information, they will not share it with the Army and when the Army has intelligence, they will keep it to themselves. "And that is why we keep on telling our political leaders that unless this rivalry is reduced to the barest minimum, it will be difficult to achieve the desired goals," the monarch added.

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