By Zacheaus Somorin with agency report
Nigeria is expecting the arrival of warplanes and helicopters it ordered from Pakistan and Russia, its latest effort to counter terrorist and militant activities, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said yesterday.
Nigeria is battling jihadist group Boko Haram, which has waged a seven-year insurgency in the northern part of the country aimed at creating an Islamic state. Thousands have been killed and more than two million displaced.
It also faces threats in its crude-producing heartland in the southern Niger Delta, where militants have been blowing up oil pipelines. The subsequent loss of crude oil output has hurt government revenues.
According to Reuters, the air force chief said it was assisting the army and navy in countering activities of terrorists and militants. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, said in May that the government hoped the United States would sell it aircraft to fight Boko Haram militants, because its human rights record had improved enough for a blockade on arms deals to be lifted.
Under the previous government, the United States had blocked arms sales and ended training of Nigerian troops, partly over human rights concerns such as treatment of captured insurgents.
Air Marshal Abubakar declined comment on arms procurement issues but said his force was receiving necessary support from several countries in terms of military training. He said more than 700 of his troops were undergoing training in Pakistan, China, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Egypt, Russia and the United States.
In a separate statement, Nigeria’s army chief reminded the military that captured terrorists must be treated in accordance with international law, adding that he wanted to get the military back to their barracks in 2017. Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai urged all his commanders to act in conjunction with the air force and navy to rescue those abducted by Boko Haram.