Nigeria to Procure Russian Helicopters, Tanks in Fight against Insurgency

  • Hands over seized American anti-mine resistant vehicles to US

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja with agency reports

In a renewed bid to contain the insurgency in the North-east, Federal Government has concluded plans to procure helicopters, planes and battle tanks from Russian Federation.

Nigeria had, at a recent security summit in Moscow, sought the assistance of Russia to combat terrorism in view of its wide experience in tackling insurgency.

This comes as federal government yesterday in Yola handed over six mine-resistant and multi-purpose military vehicles intercepted by the 23 Amoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Yola in August to the American government even as troops of Nigeria and Chadian Armed Forces killed 15 insurgents and captured arms and ammunition in Jigalta Borno State.

President Buhari is expected to meet President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“We’re sure that with Russian help, we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Steve Ugbah, said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency.

He added that Nigeria was interested in purchasing Russian helicopters, planes, tanks and other military equipment.

Ugbah said a military technical cooperation deal between Russia and Nigeria had already been drafted and that it only needed to be finalised.

“We hope president Buhari can take the talks to their logical end. The agreement will open new possibilities in such areas as the supply of military equipment and training for specialists,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria military officials handed over six mine-resistant and multi-purpose vehicles to the officials of the United States government.

Soldiers manning a checkpoint in Adamawa State had intercepted the vehicles transported into Nigeria without due process.

Troops of the 23 Armoured Brigade in Yola, seized the equipment in Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The equipment was imported without an end-user certificate from the Office of the National Security Adviser. After the interception, the vehicles were kept at the Customs Headquarters in Yola.

Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Yola Command, Mr. Kamardeen Olumoh, handed over the vehicles on behalf of the Nigerian government to Kathleen FitzGibbon, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of United States in Nigeria.

Olumoh said that the command received a directive from the NSA to release the vehicles. “I am directed by the National Security Adviser to comply, release and hand over the vehicles to the American Government,” he said.

In her response, FitzGibbon thanked the Nigerian government for its understanding. She said the vehicles would be moved to Niger Republic for a security mission.

“Nigeria and America have a good relation and understanding; the vehicles were moving to the Niger Republic for a security mission,” she said.

She disclosed that the US Air Force Carrier would transport the vehicles to Niger Republic.

Meanwhile, troops of 242 Battalion in a joint operation with Sector 2 Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Chadian Defence Forces (CDF) yesterday killed 15 insurgents in Jigalta Village, Borno State.

An army update on the war against insurgency said troops encountered an ambush organised by Boko Haram fighters at Jigalta Village ahead of Marari, 27 Kilometers from Monguno in Borno State while on a joint clearance operation.

It said the insurgents laid an ambush with five gun trucks and unconfirmed number of insurgents.

“However, the gallant troops responsively countered the ambush and decimated the uncoordinated criminals. Resultantly, 15 of the Boko Haram criminals were neutralised while few of them escaped with severe gunshot wounds.

“In addition, two Boko Haram gun trucks were destroyed while another two were captured. Also, four Dutshka anti-aircraft guns, nine AK 47 Rifles and a sizeable cache of ammunition were captured by the gallant troops. Unfortunately, one soldier paid the supreme sacrifice during the cross fire that ensued while a Chadian soldier was also wounded in action”, the statement said.

The statement signed by Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col Aminu Iliyasu, said

the Commander, Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole/MNJTF, Major General Abdulmalik Biu, and the Commander, Sector 2 MNJTF (CDF), Colonel Bokhit Ali, Commander Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole, Brigadier General Jamiu Jimoh as well as Commander, 3 Military Intelligence Brigade Colonel Abubakar Mohammed visited the jubilant troops at the location of the encounter.

Major General Abdulmalik Biu commended the efforts of the troops and conveyed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai’s appreciation and commendation.

He also conveyed Commander MNJTF, Major General Chikezie Ude’s words of encouragement to the troops. Additionally, the Commander Sector 2 MNJTF (CDF) Colonel Bokhit Ali expressed his satisfaction with the collaborative effort and renewed his commitment to fighting the menace of ISWAP/Boko Haram together.