Air Force to deploy fighter jets to N-Delta – NAF Chief
This came on a day three Niger Delta militant groups, in solidarity with the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, declared their support for the move by monarchs and leaders in the region to form a pan-Niger Delta group, comprising all the ethnic nationalities in the coastal states. This is to enable the region negotiate with the Federal Government on way out of the current crisis.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, confirmed at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, that the jets might move in soon but did not give a specific date and the number of troops to be mobilized for the crucial assignment. There were conflicting declarations by the Niger Delta Avengers, who have been bombing oil assets in the area and several militant groups over further destruction of oil facilities.
But at the media briefing, the CAS explained that the mission of the NAF was to preserve Nigeria’s sovereignty and protect lives and property in the Niger Delta. Abubakar said: “Our mandate is to protect the sovereignty of Nigeria. What we are doing is to protect oil infrastructure and the community.
“We are not going into the Niger Delta to fight militants or anybody, but to protect oil facilities and the people as guaranteed by the constitution of Nigeria,” the NAF boss declared.
Abubakar also spoke on effort by the Federal Government to rescue the Chibok girls, saying the government was more concerned than anybody else about locating and freeing the abducted students.
He said it was all in a bid to salvage the girls and other Nigerians seized by the Boko Haram terrorists that the NAF has continued daily missions over the 60,000-square metre Sambisa forest. According to him, NAF is dedicated to identifying the possible locations of the missing girls and rescuing them.
Responding to a recent video clip by Boko Haram, accusing the NAF of bombing the Chibok girls to death, Abubakar described such claim as sheer sentiments by the terrorists in an apparent bid to earn the support of the gullible. “These guys are just trying to whip up sentiments. No NAF aircraft bombed any Chibok girl or any Nigerian we are trying to rescue from the hands of the terrorists.
“The truth is that we conduct our operations with the safety and wellbeing of the innocent civilians around the operational areas in mind. We used 50 per cent of our missions to find the girls through intelligence. We fly over the forest routinely all in a bid to free the young girls and I want to say that we are more concerned about Chibok girls and all those trapped by Boko haram than anyone else.
“We painstakingly identify our legitimate targets to strike and not civilians and our pilots have always carried out their duty in line with the best standards of operation,” he said. NAF Chief warns Boko Haram
The NAF boss said no fewer than 960 units of houses have been built for the welfare of its officers and men and a strategic post-retirement scheme put in place for them.
On the plight of Internally displaced persons in the northeast, Abubakar said that the NAF had built and commissioned a hospital in Borno State to take care of victims of terrorism, while another one would soon go into operation.
He said NAF had performed eye operations on 120 IDPs in the state and had given them necessary support so as to alleviate their suffering.