A Russian airplane intercepted by Nigerian authorities Saturday on its way to neighbouring Chad, was transporting a large cache of AK47s and bullet proof vests, and other items, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported.
Security operatives at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, on Saturday seized the plane which landed at the airport at about 2a.m. as a result of technical problems.
Crew members of the airplane have been detained while investigations are ongoing, NAN quoted a source as saying.
“Security has since been beefed up at the airport in order to ensure proper investigation,” the source said.
The general manager of communication, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Yakubu Datti, confirmed the seizure of the plane.
He said the pilot sought permission to land at the airport after the plane developed problems.
“The plane had a technical problem and the pilot sought (for) permission to land at the airport’’, he said.
Mr. Datti said security agencies had since commenced investigation into the matter.
Security sources told PREMIUM TIMES the plane was travelling to N’djamena, the capital of Chad.
A spokesperson for the Nigerian military, Chris Olukolade, could not be reached on Saturday for comments.
The spokesman of the Joint Military Task Force in Kano, Col. Eze, did not also respond to telephone calls.
The Police spokesperson in Kano, Magaji Majiya, said details of the arrest could only be provided by the airport security.
The Defence Headquarters has however confirmed the development on its twitter handle [@DefenceInfoNG].
“An Antonov Cargo aircraft carrying some military hardware was arrested at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in the early hours of Saturday 6th Dec. 2014,” the military tweeted.
“Investigation is ongoing to determine the content and origin of the aircraft. Further details will be made as soon as the investigation is completed.”
PR Nigeria, an agency known for distributing press statements on behalf of the Nigerian military, later circulated a statement saying the aircraft contained “a chopper tucked in it”.
“… Intense investigation is ongoing including using diplomatic means to unravel the mission of the aircraft, its origin and destination,” the statement said.
Competent security sources confirmed that the aircraft and crew are under protective custody pending conclusion of investigation.
This is the third time since 2009 that a Russian plane loaded with arms would be arrested in Kano.
The detained planes were later released after investigations.
The destination of the latest aircraft has however raised concerns amid increasing worries in Nigeria over Chad’s alleged role in the Boko Haram insurgency plaguing Nigeria’s northeast.