DHQ tries to destroy bandits with Tucano jets, laments US state

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More facts have surfaced as to why the armed forces do not yet have to use their full arsenal against bandits who have dominated the northwest and parts of the north-central geopolitical zones.

The PUNCH reliably learned on Monday that the armed forces of the National Assembly through their committees had informed the agreement signed with the United States government that the land-sourced A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets would be used against terrorists and insurgents and no bandits.

Several sources in the National Assembly, who are aware of the developments, said the chiefs of service complaints led to recent demands by the Senate and the House of Representatives to label bandits as terrorists.

PUNCH had reported that the federal government had ordered 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft in February 2018 at a price of 496 million US dollars.

The Nigerian Air Force took delivery of the first batch of six aircraft from the United States on July 22, 2021. The second batch of aircraft arrived in Nigeria in September.

A total of 64 pilots and maintainers of the Nigerian Air Force were trained according to US standards with the 81st Fighter Squadron of the US Air Force at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA.

The training also highlighted the Armed Conflict and Civilian Casualty Reduction Act, which are fundamental principles of vocational education and training for the Nigerian military.

Speaking on the phone with one of our correspondents on Monday, a top source on one of the National Assembly’s security committees said the armed forces, particularly the Nigerian Air Force, had been unable to decimate the bandits due to the conditions involved in using the fighter jets.

The lawmaker said, “Let me tell you the truth. We once asked the German Armed Forces why they hadn’t used the Tucano to fight the bandits and one of the service managers (name withheld) told us that their hands were tied due to the human rights regulations regarding the aircraft. He told us that the equipment is intended for war against terrorists and insurgents and since they are bandits they cannot be used.

Bandits no different from B’Haram, Buhari should implement N’Assembly resolutions – Legislators

“He actually told us that once the bandits were labeled terrorists, they would be wiped out. Do not forget that today the bandits are no different from Boko Haram considering their activities and the severity of their attacks. After both chambers of the National Assembly have called for the declaration, we urge the President to implement our decisions. ”

Another reliable source on the safety committees, asked to confirm the first source’s information, said it was true. “We did what we should, so the ball is no longer in our field,” he said.

On September 30, 2021, the House of Representatives called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari retired, to label bandits and their supporters as terrorists.

The Senate had made the request the day before.

The chairman of the House Defense Committee, Babajimi Benson, who had made a motion of urgent public concern, called on the House to support the Senate.

The motion was entitled “Declaration of Bandits and Their Sponsors as Terrorists”.

Moving the motion, Benson said: “The Senate approved a motion on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare bandits devastating the northern part of the country terrorists and wage all-out war lead against them. They also asked the President to declare wanted all known bandit leaders and arrest them wherever they were found in order to expeditiously prosecute them. Such a declaration, which must be made by a prohibition order, can be made in accordance with Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 (as amended).

“I want to repeat the same opinion and ask honorable colleagues to join the Senate and urge Mr. President to declare bandits and their sponsors terrorists. This will underscore the government’s determination to fight the wave of crime and killings perpetrated by bandits across the country. ”

He pointed out that declaring bandits to be terrorists could be done through a prohibition order.

Listed other benefits of declaring the bandits terrorists, Benson noted that such an arrangement would officially bring the activities of bandits and their sponsors within the scope of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, while all persons associated with such groups would then legally can be prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the law.

He said, “Declaring all bandits as terrorists can encourage other countries to do the same and help build a global consensus on how to deal with transnational factors that fuel the domestic activities of such outlawed organizations and individuals.”

The chairman of the House Army Committee, Abdulrazak Namdas, said in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday that the bandits had met all criteria for terrorism. However, he denied any knowledge of complaints related to the use of the Tucano jets.

Namdas said, “Now that the government has started to get the tucanos and we have another load and the morale of the troops is high right now; Though we’ve had a casualty or two, but this is part of a war, and there is nowhere in the world that a war is not expected to be a casualty – it should only be seriously minimized; If you strengthen the security forces and we agree that these bandits are terrorists, then we would have the opportunity to act against them with all our might. ”

Benson also spoke to The PUNCH, saying the Senate and House resolutions should have been sent to Buhari for review and sanctioning.

He said, “The truth of the matter is that I do not know whether it has been transmitted, but I am sure that if the two sides of the National Assembly pass a resolution, it should be carefully considered. And I doubt that the bureaucracy (administration of the National Assembly) passed it on to get the attention of Mr. President. ”

The United States had announced that the A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets would support Nigeria’s fight against terrorism, particularly in the north-east of the West African country.

The US Department of Defense leaders attended the Super Tucano jet induction ceremony on August 31.

A request to the US embassy in Nigeria as to whether the Super Tucano should only be used to fight terrorists had not yet been answered on Tuesday.

However, in an earlier chat with The PUNCH, Acting Public Affairs Counselor Jeanne Clark stated that the use of the weapons would be subject to Leahy Review, a law that is a US legal act that prohibits the US government from providing military assistance to foreign security forces who violate human rights with impunity.

Clark stated that Nigeria is a strategic partner of the US. She added that the US would ensure surveillance to ensure that the weapons are being used for their intended purpose.

She said: “We have direct and open communication with the Nigerian government regarding our expectation that all security forces will be held responsible for protecting civilians and respecting human rights. All United States trained Nigerian military personnel are subject to Leahy review.

“All potential US defense sales will be carefully screened under the US Government’s Conventional Arms Transfer Policy to investigate issues such as human rights, regional security, and non-proliferation concerns to determine whether a sale is in the best interests of foreign policy and national security The United States.

“Verification and monitoring are an integral part of the process for every US defense item that is shipped to a recipient country. This will help ensure that these items are used by the intended recipient in the manner intended and in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Military Sale Agreement. ”

When contacted on Tuesday to confirm the transmission of the resolution to Buhari, the President’s Senior Special Assistant for National Assembly (House of Representatives) Affairs, Mr. Umar el-Yakub, noted that the Secretary of the National Assembly was sending legislative resolutions directly to the president.

El-Yakub also noted that the liaison officers only transmit communications from the President to the National Assembly and are just copied documents sent by Parliament on special occasions.

When he was contacted, the National Assembly’s executive director for information, Mr. Rawlings Agada, the PUNCH correspondent, advised him to speak to him on Wednesday as he did not yet have any information on the matter.

He said, “I don’t have any information about what you’re asking me, but you can check back tomorrow so I can do some research for you.”

A President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, urged The PUNCH to direct inquiries to the Department of Defense when asked if the President’s refusal to label bandits as terrorists prevented the full use of Super Tucano weapons in the Northwest.

“Please contact the Department of Defense. You will answer this best. Thank you, ”said Shehu.

In response, the Defense Minister’s Special Assistant to the Media and Public, Mohammed Abdulkadri, referred one of our correspondents to the Chief of Defense Staff, General Lucky Irabor.

Calls to Nigerian Air Force spokesman Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet were also not connected while a response to a text message sent to him was awaiting at the time of filing this report. ,,

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