Boko Haram: Nigeria to deploy attack aircraft from Niger
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, said the air force would deploy air equipment from Difa, Niger, to curtail the activities of insurgents in the North-East.
Mr Abubakar stated this at the closing of NAF International Air Power Seminar at its International Conference Centre, on Wednesday in Abuja.
He explained that the deployment would chart a new phase in the fight against insurgency and kidnapping in the North-east.
He said more collaborations were coming from countries in Europe, the Middle East, parts of Asia, America and Africa to fight Boko Haram terrorists as fighting terrorism had become a global issue.
The air chief told journalists that the seminar provided opportunities for NAF to benefit from the experiences of countries fighting terrorism and those that had dealt with similar situations in the past.
He noted that terrorism could not be fought alone, adding that it required collaboration from people that had similar interest and understanding of the nature of the threat.
“I think the most important thing for us is the fact that we have underlined the global character of terrorism. There is no country in the world that can fight terrorism alone.
“And so, the whole idea of this seminar is to gather people that have similar interest, similar understanding of the nature of this type of threat,” he said.
Mr Abubakar said Boko Haram was not a Nigerian problem alone, adding that it was global.
“What we did was to simply bring in Nigeria people from different countries that have fought terrorism before or that are currently fighting terrorism so that we understand what they are doing.
“We also have people from the academics that have come to also share their experiences and how best they think we can improve on what we are doing,” he said.
He said the NAF would now have more collaboration with countries to fight the insurgency.
“Like the Nigerien CAS said, we will now have more collaboration.
“We can now deploy our airplanes to their airfields, operate from there rather than coming back to Maiduguri, operate from Difa which is in Niger Republic,” Mr Abubakar said.
“For me, this is the most important thing and we have benefited immensely from the seminar and it will certainly add value to what we are doing,” he said.
On Amnesty International bombing allegation that the NAF dropped bombs on civilians who died, the CAS said “I think war fighting is a science.
“If anybody says you have dropped bomb, we want to know what calibre of bomb is it that he has dropped.
“If they can give us the calibre of bomb dropped and which asset that bomb is, we have aircraft that can carry bomb. We have aircraft that cannot carry bomb.
“I think what is important which we stressed during our meeting with Amnesty is that they need to engage us. If someone is accusing you of doing something, it would only be fair to hear from both sides.
“But, we have not been contacted on this; we are engaging them and we are discussing. Nigerian Air Force is a professional air force.
“Why we are fighting Boko Haram is because they are killing innocent people, so, it does not make sense for us to go and kill innocent people,” he said.
On his part, Boulama Zana, Chief of Staff of the Niger Air Force, lauded Mr Abubakar for organising the seminar, saying it was a good initiative.
He said that the seminar was not a solution in itself in fighting insurgency, adding that it was the concentration of ideas on ways to work together and address the situation.
Mr Zana said there was need to develop frontiers on how “we are going to work together to solve this common problem of terrorism and counter-insurgency which we are facing in our country and the problem facing our population.”
He explained that it was to address the challenges that Abubakar invited countries that had experienced insurgency to share their experiences.
“So, we are already co-operating since the beginning of this problems. We are collaborating,” he said.
He said that Nigeria “air assets’’ could come into Difa to refuel and to go for operations, so, this is a big step in fighting the Boko Haram situation.”
In his remarks, Yousef Al-Hnaity, Commander of the Jordanian Royal Air Force, said the seminar was not only for Nigeria or Africa but for the world.
Mr Al-Hnaity said that the presentations at the seminar were of great value, where issues like irregular warfare and terrorism were been discussed and challenges addressed.
More than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, U.S., Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Niger and Cameroun participated in the seminar.
The theme of the seminar is “Air Power in Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Understanding and Responding.”