November 13, 2016

US Blocks Nigeria from Buying Aircraft to Fight Boko Haram

Strong indications have emerged that the United States has again blocked Nigeria from acquiring a fighter ground attack aircraft considered crucial in the war against Boko Haram.

Investigations showed that the US has prevented the military from acquiring the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft from Brazil. But why again?

A Presidency source told Punch that Nigeria and Brazil were almost striking a deal on the acquisition of the light attack aircraft when the US, which produced the aircraft, prevented the deal.

It was gathered that the leadership of the Armed Forces had taken a decision to replace the ailing Alpha jet platform of the Nigerian Air Force with the newer A-29 Super Tucano.

The source said that the Brazilians, who were enthusiastic about the deal, suddenly became reluctant.

The source said US had told Brazil, who acquired 99 of the aircraft from US firm, Embraer Defence System, that the aircraft deal be put on hold due to human rights issues involving Nigeria military.

The US had blocked the administration of Goodluck Jonathan from acquiring Boeing CH-47 Chinok helicopters from Israel in January 2015 due to "human rights issues" involving Nigeria military.

Like the case of the A-29 Super Tucano, the Boeing CH-47 Chinok helicopters were produced by US firms and could only be sold with approval by the Americans.

The latest development has dimmed indications that the US was relaxing the arms embargo on the country with the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

US Congressman Darrel Isah had shortly after a meeting with service chiefs and defence authorities in August 2015, said that US had commenced the process of relaxing the embargo on military assistance to the country under the Leahy Law.

The Leahy Law prohibits the US defence sector from providing military assistance to countries involved in rights violations.

The prevailing arms blockade had again compelled Nigerian government to look in the direction of Asia and Eastern Europe for arms supply to fight Boko Haram.

It was learnt that the Federal Government had paid for 10 Super Mushak trainers from Pakistan expected to arrived the country by the first week of December 2016.

It was further learnt that plans had reached an advanced stage to bring in 12 MI 35M, one of the latest helicopter gunships from Russia.
 
 
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