By Chiemelie Ezeobi and Chinecherem Ojiako
To boost its fight against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and other criminal elements across the country, the Nigerian Army (NA) has taken delivery of high grade armoured tanks and artillery trucks purchased by the federal government.
The armaments which were built to specification, were ordered from China after that country’s state-owned China Ordnance Industries Group Corporation Limited (Norinco) won the federal government’s bid for the acquisition of military hardwares last year.
With a $152m contract on the table, the Chinese government, it was learnt was made to guarantee the quality and timely delivery of the armaments, which are mostly intended for use in the North-east to boost the ongoing war against insurgency.
It was gathered that China won the bid for the military equipment following its flexible maintenance policies and durability of the equipment it had supplied the country including warships built for the Nigerian Navy (NN).
Equipped with latest artillery and armoured technologies, the armaments have the ability to wage war from multiple fronts with technologies that aid visibility in cloudy or smoky weather.
It was gathered that Nigeria is the first country in the world to have these vehicles, which were built to carry a minimum of 12 armed personnel housed securely within.
Taking delivery of the armaments Wednesday, Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans (CPPLANS) Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun said Nigerians should expect more robust operations to put behind the menace of insecurity including Boko Haram, banditry and others.
He said the weapons were acquired through the Ministry of Defence, adding that adequate preparations were made for maintenance and availability of spare parts.
Adeosun said: “The process of acquiring this has been on for some time but thank God they are coming in now.
“From this, you can see how serious the Federal Government of Nigeria is in making sure that the Nigerian Army is not only equipped ,but contains problem of insecurity we are having across the country.
“This is being tackled with trained personnel and required equipment. What you are seeing here is just a tip of the iceberg. Others are still coming but it is very important that we all see that both the military and the government are really very serious to tackle the security problems across the nation.”
Asked where the armaments were acquired from, Adeosun said they were brand new weapons from China, adding “they are in different categories- heavy tanks, light tanks and we also have two types of artillery weapons, all from China. They have the latest technology in tanks and armament.
“The first set of 15 40-foot containers that were offloaded before today were made up of spareparts and accessories of all these equipment.
“So, those ones are already out of the port and on their way to their destinations. Just as we are here, most of these ones will move to their respective destinations as well.
“Those who will operate them have been trained in China. If not for the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19, we expected some of their trainers to join us here to train more people.
“From the army, expect more robust operation to put behind us the menace of insecurity, that of Boko Haram, bandits among others.”
As at press time, 17 vehicles were already offloaded from the ships and mounted on flat belt trucks including VT4 (a new generation main battle weapon which has a range of over 500km) and ST1 (another new generation light tank).
One of the tanks being offloaded from the ships at Apapa Ports