As part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s concerted efforts to end terrorism by 2023, the federal government will deploy 12 Super Tucano jets against bandits.
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According to The Nation, while the federal government has begun to perfect the conditions for the release of a gazette that will legally classify bandits as terrorists, the United States (U.S.) has not given Nigeria a blank cheque on the use of fighter jets.
It was also learned that US officers have been visiting Nigeria to evaluate the use of the jets in accordance with the terms of sale, according to a monthly schedule floated by the North American countryr to monitor the deployment of the jets, the battle grounds, and the purpose of the deployment.
According to the publication, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice confirmed that the procedures were nearly met last night.
The source said;
“You know that the Federal Government, on its own, went to court and got the judgment declaring bandits as terrorists. This has excited everyone.
“The American suppliers of the aircraft needed to be assured that Nigeria will keep to the terms of the sale, which is to strictly use them against terrorists.
“Now that the courts have said so, you should expect the deployment of the aircraft as soon as all processes, including the gazetting of the judgment, are completed.
“But, even before this is done, new platforms are being received and deployed and you can see the devastating effects of the nation’s airpower on the terrorists and bandits in the Northeast and the Northwest.
“Last week’s Nigeria Air Force bombing of the camp of the notorious bandit, Turji, in Zamfara State, is a case in point. Things are changing very rapidly.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu who commented on the declaration of bandits as terrorists by a Nigerian court, said;
“We in the presidency are excited by the decision of the court.”
Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said the procedures for the gazette on bandits were almost done. The Special Adviser on Media to the AGF, Dr. Umaru Gwandu, said;
“The Federal Government has published the proscription order in two national dailies as a requirement.
“The Federal Government has also ordered that the order be in the gazette. I am optimistic that the Nigerian public will soon see the published order in the gazette. I think if it is not out, it could be out any moment from now.”
It was also gathered that apart from limiting the jets for campaign only against terrorists in the North, the US team has been auditing their operations monthly.
A source also said the U.S. has been “very strict” in evaluating the deployment of the jets to avoid abuse by the military.
The source said;
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“Every month, a team from the U.S. used to come to audit the deployment of the jets. They have asked us to ensure that the number of hours of operations will be registered in the box; where the jets have been to for operations and for what specific purposes.
“They sold the aircraft to us but they did not give us a blank cheque on how to use these aircraft. We have kept to the terms and we are winning the war. This is why the President directed the Armed Forces to end the war before his exit in 2023.”