The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has announced a planned expansion of its platforms in North-Eastern Nigeria towards speedy response in counter-insurgency operations.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, who stated this while on a visit to military formations and traditional institutions in Borno State announced that “the Nigerian Air Force is exploring the possibility of expanding the Air Force group in the North-East to ensure the total restoration of peace is achieved in the shortest time possible.”
Mr. Abubakar explained that “with the planned expansions, more personnel will be deployed and more platforms created to widen our operations towards timely and speedy response in counter-insurgency campaigns.
“We are already widening the roles of our regiments as special combat forces to secure and protect key points after successful operations.”
Mr. Abubakar, an Air Marshall, who commended the military in the ongoing campaign against terrorists, said the citizens have lots of roles to play.
“The public should complement the gallantry of our armed forces by being security conscious through timely reporting of suspicious objects, movements, or strange persons to the nearest security agencies.
“Security is a collective effort not only that of security agencies as government alone cannot provide security absolutely to its citizens without the support and cooperation of its citizens.”
While commending the support and encouragement from President Muhammadu Buhari to the Nigerian armed forces, the Air Force chief urged the states to do the same in the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
During his visit to the palace of Shehu of Borno, the traditional ruler, Abubakar El Kanemi, called on the government to work assiduously towards ensuring the return of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to their villages.
Mr. El-Kanemi said most of the IDPs in the state are prepared to go back to their homes to enable them prepare for the farming season.
“I wish to therefore appeal to the government to facilitate their return in collaboration with the state government and other donor agencies as well as the security agencies by providing adequate security and conducive living environment for the displaced persons.”
The pledge by the Air chief is coming in the heels of successes recorded by the Air Force in its ongoing fight against the extremist group, Boko Haram.
An Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle, UAV, belonging to the force, recently destroyed a logistics base used by Boko Haram.
The Air Force said the UAV was on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, ISR, mission when it came across the gathering of Boko Haram terrorists at Garin Moloma, about one kilometre north of the Sambisa Forest, a Boko Haram enclave.
Recent Air Mishaps
The need for additional platforms by the Nigerian Air Force also occurs in the light of recent crashes experienced by the service.
Last year, an aircraft belonging to the Air Force crashed in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State.
The jet was returning from an operation in Borno State when it reportedly encountered bad weather and crashed, killing the pilot.
Also, an Mi-35 Helicopter, belonging to the Air Force, crashed in 2014 while on a training mission Borno State.
The chopper reportedly crashed due to technical fault at a location south of Bama town.
The Air Force also lost two other helicopters in three days in Adamawa state in 2014.
Both choppers went down while on surveillance mission at Damare, a suburb of Girei local government in the state.
Despite the setbacks, the Nigerian Air Force recently announced that its patrol and surveillance activities have succeeded in blocking routes through which petroleum products and other materials are supplied to the extremist Boko Haram sect.
It said patrols along the Nigeria-Cameroon borders “have greatly strained the supply efforts of the BHT (Boko Haram terrorists).”
The service in a statement said, “the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) through its intensified and persistent efforts in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) has intercepted over 4,000 drums and jerry cans of petroleum products and other smuggled items.
“The items, suspected to be supplies meant for BHT, were confiscated from the smugglers in Pepe, Dashin-Hausa, Belel Bilachi, and Konkul villages located along the Nigeria-Cameroon Borders.”
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