Nigeria deploys US fighter jets to tackle spiralling insecurity

A-29 super Tucano fighter jet.

A-29 super Tucano fighter jet. Nigeria is planning to acquire M-346 multirole aircraft to intensify the fight against terrorists. The acquisition of fighter jets was approved by US ex-President Donald Trump.

Photo credit: Pool

Abuja

Nigeria has deployed 10 of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets it obtained from the US in the fight against terrorism, banditry and violent separatism. 

This comes as terror activities by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) fighters have resulted in the deaths of almost 59,000 people in North East Nigeria since 2009. 

Meanwhile, banditry in the North Central and North West regions has mushroomed in the recent past and caused untold hardship in the form of deaths, abductions for ransom and destruction of farmlands. 

Additionally, secessionist groups in the South East of the country, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have declared the Republic of Biafra and formed a militia group that is killing people and destroying infrastructure, worsening Nigeria’s security situation.

The growing security risks, which are threatening the Nigeria’s economy, have led the national government to seek sophisticated weapons, including those that will improve the country’s air power.

The acquisition of fighter jets from the US was approved by ex-President Donald Trump while he was still in office.

“As of today, we have ten of the jets on the ground and the remaining two should be delivered in the next two weeks or so,’’ Mr Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, said on Sunday. 

Game changer in fight

He said the fighter planes and the J-17 jets acquired from Pakistan have made a major difference in the dynamics of the war against terrorists and bandits. 

The deployment, he said, has contributed to military successes in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, adding that the militants had been surrendering in droves in the North East. 

More than 10,000 fighters are confirmed to have surrendered as the onslaught from the army pushes militants to the fringes of Lake Chad, bordering Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

“When these people surrender, it is either they are overpowered, they are starved of their operations or it has become impossible for them to carry out their dastardly acts. They do not just surrender voluntarily,’’ he said.

He recalled that under former President Barack Obama, the US had declined to approve Nigeria’s acquisition of the aircraft.

The Nigerian Air Force on July 22 took delivery of the first six of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the US, then received another four in October, leaving two that would be delivered before the end of this year. 

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