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$1bn military helicopters: US trainers to spend two years in Nigeria, security experts hail move

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The United States Government has said the implementation of its proposed sale of 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria will require the deployment of three of its representatives or those of the contractors to reside in the country for two years for the purposes of training and logistics.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, on Thursday, said in a statement on its website titled, ‘Nigeria – AH-1Z Attack Helicopter Related FMS Acquisitions’, that the notice of the potential sale was required by law and that Congress had been notified of the possible transaction.

It said the State Department had “made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to the Government of Nigeria of AH-1Z attack helicopter related FMS acquisitions and related equipment for an estimated cost of $997m.”

The statement named the principal contractors as Bell Helicopter, Textron, Fort Worth, TX; and General Electric Company, Lynn, MA, saying the proposed sale would better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the US and other western partners.

The United States Government has said the implementation of its proposed sale of 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria will require the deployment of three of its representatives or those of the contractors to reside in the country for two years for the purposes of training and logistics.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, on Thursday, said in a statement on its website titled, ‘Nigeria – AH-1Z Attack Helicopter Related FMS Acquisitions’, that the notice of the potential sale was required by law and that Congress had been notified of the possible transaction.

It said the State Department had “made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to the Government of Nigeria of AH-1Z attack helicopter related FMS acquisitions and related equipment for an estimated cost of $997m.”

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The statement named the principal contractors as Bell Helicopter, Textron, Fort Worth, TX; and General Electric Company, Lynn, MA, saying the proposed sale would better equip Nigeria to contribute to shared security objectives, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the US and other western partners.

Meanwhile, the statement pointed out that the cost of the equipment could eventually reduce, depending on certain variables, adding, “The description and dollar value is for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.”

Security experts hail move

Some security experts, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, hailed the proposed acquisition, saying it could be a game-changer in the onslaught against terrorists. They said it would also enhance the capability of the military to deal decisively with the bandits-turned-terrorists, especially since the authorities appeared unwilling to deploy the Super Tucano jets against them.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale includes the Bell-made Cobras; 28 General Electric-made T700-401C engines (24 installed, four spares); 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System used to convert unguided missiles into precision-guided missiles; M197 20mm machine gun; Night Vision Cueing Display; commercial variant GPS with Standard Positioning Service; communication equipment; electronic warfare systems; AN/AVS-9 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System and targeting and navigation systems. It also includes $25m for institutional and technical assistance to the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Reports had indicated that the US State Department approved the sale of military hardware to Nigeria after lawmakers lifted their objections over human rights concerns.

An intelligence and security risk management consultant, Kabir Adamu, noted that the nature of the threat elements in Nigeria required air capability that was ideal for urban warfare and precision-style interdiction attacks.

“These two requirements can be met by combat helicopters. This is in addition to meeting the requirement for rapid response as part of a light force capability that all modern military and security forces should have. I, therefore, welcome this acquisition and see it as a possible game-changer in the current conflict dynamics in the country,” he stated.

Adamu noted that drones would be a good addition to the military arsenal, both for intelligence gathering and the fact that there were multiple theatres of conflict the military was engaged in.

A former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, said the attack choppers were good, but they must be put into effective use, especially in the North-West and North-Central, where there had been massive kidnappings and killings since the terrorists relocated from the North-East.

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He added, “Who knows when it is coming? If it’s something that is ready for delivery soon, it is fine. But the question is; where are the Tucano jets we bought earlier? However, they should help us in operating these platforms. We also need effective drones.

“The greatest challenge we have is that we can’t quickly locate them (terrorists) when they are coming; the Air Force could bomb them on their way, but that has not happened. What they have been doing is to come within an area view and tell us that a number of persons have been killed.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Agent X Security Limited, Timothy Avele, also said the choppers and drones would help in the fight against terrorism.

He said, “It’s a good move. I will advise that they should be used mainly as a quick response force immediately. They should be used especially in Kaduna, Niger Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states, and other emerging volatile zones. It should be noted that, for better results, long endurance, all-weather drones for 24/7 aerial surveillance and monitoring must be used to complement these helicopters and of course, human intelligence is necessary too.”

A retired US Army Captain and security consultant, Bishop Johnson, said the Nigeria Air Force must be careful with the deployment of the attack helicopters to minimise collateral damage.

He stated, “With these kinds of military packages from the United States, they are usually very specific on how this equipment, especially aircraft, should be deployed. The most important factor they usually consider is that the aircraft is not used against innocent Nigerians and is not used to commit human rights violations.

“Other than that, I think they should be deployed where necessary and where they can add value to the Nigerian Air Force to tackle the security challenges Nigeria is facing right now.”

He said the Air Force had in recent times been more careful not to kill innocent persons, noting that the deployment would normally be based on operations and intelligence received.

Another security expert, Oladele Fajana, urged the military to ensure that the rights of people were not violated and that innocent persons were not killed.

“Without getting rid of these terrorists, Nigeria will not have peace; so, if those things can be hastened and delivered to Nigeria, they should be deployed immediately, because this war is not a conventional one. The enemies are within. The security personnel alone can no longer fight this war. We need technology. If deployed, they’re going to help,” he stated.

Also, a security consultant, Mr Yemi Adeyemi, said the military would need to exercise care in the way it handles the fighter helicopters when they finally arrive in Nigeria. “The Air Force should be careful so they don’t harm innocent lives. It is a delicate matter, which is why they should always be trained and retrained on how to tackle this war,” he added.

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However, a Fellow of the International Institute of Professional Security and certified golden member of the International Security Association, Switzerland, Jackson Olalekan-Ojo, said all the government needed was the political will to flush out terrorists from Nigeria and not the acquisition of fighter helicopters.

He stated, “With these kinds of military packages from the United States, they are usually very specific on how this equipment, especially aircraft, should be deployed. The most important factor they usually consider is that the aircraft is not used against innocent Nigerians and is not used to commit human rights violations.

“Other than that, I think they should be deployed where necessary and where they can add value to the Nigerian Air Force to tackle the security challenges Nigeria is facing right now.”

He said the Air Force had in recent times been more careful not to kill innocent persons, noting that the deployment would normally be based on operations and intelligence received.

Another security expert, Oladele Fajana, urged the military to ensure that the rights of people were not violated and that innocent persons were not killed.

“Without getting rid of these terrorists, Nigeria will not have peace; so, if those things can be hastened and delivered to Nigeria, they should be deployed immediately, because this war is not a conventional one. The enemies are within. The security personnel alone can no longer fight this war. We need technology. If deployed, they’re going to help,” he stated.

Also, a security consultant, Mr Yemi Adeyemi, said the military would need to exercise care in the way it handles the fighter helicopters when they finally arrive in Nigeria. “The Air Force should be careful so they don’t harm innocent lives. It is a delicate matter, which is why they should always be trained and retrained on how to tackle this war,” he added.

However, a Fellow of the International Institute of Professional Security and certified golden member of the International Security Association, Switzerland, Jackson Olalekan-Ojo, said all the government needed was the political will to flush out terrorists from Nigeria and not the acquisition of fighter helicopters.

PUNCH

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Bandits strike in Abuja, kidnap corps member, 7 others in Kubwa

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FCT Police Command PRO, DSP Josephine Adeh

Suspected armed bandits late struck at the Arab Road Extension 2 in Kubwa district of the FCT late Tuesday, and abducted a serving Youth Corps member, one Adenike, and seven others while killing one resident.

Sources said that Miss Adenike who is the only daughter of her parents was abducted when the bandit’s stormed some buildings along the Arab road, shooting sporadically and whisking away any resident they could lay their hands on.

Two persons were said to have been hit by the gunshots resulting in one allegedly dying on the spot while the other was rushed to the hospital after the bandits made away with victims abducted.

Sources said the bandits gained entrance into the Arab road extension from a hill which serves as a buffer for residents of the area.

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“Apart from the Youth Corper, we are looking for seven other resident’s. Nobody can sleep anymore. It was like a war zone the way they were shooting. Luckily two of those kidnapped escaped. That is how we knew seven persons were taken away”, a resident said.

“From Amilomania Street, they moved to Toyin Street, all in Extension 2 Relocation, along Arab Road, in Kubwa” the source said adding that “one of the victims shot dead is a popular tailor in the area,

The source said the bandit’s may have resorted to using the hilly area to gain entrance into the street to avoid the Vigilante who are stationed in the popular entrance of the street, to avoid a fight back.

Efforts to get the FCT Police Command PRO, DSP Josephine Adeh to comment on the development last night proved abortive.

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23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia

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A 23-year-old Nigerian tourist risks 12 years in prison after an alleged sexual crime against a 31-year-old tourist in Kuta, Indonesia.

report by Daily Mail revealed that the woman, who is an Australian, was raped after she met up with the Nigerian man on Friday, December 2.

The report also noted that the duo met on a dating app on December 1 and agreed to meet at a bar in Kuta the following day.

Although the Indonesian police are still searching for the Nigerian man, they alleged that he hurriedly took the woman to his hotel after drinking at the bar.

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The woman was sexually abused at the hotel and had cuts and bruises to her arms, hands and waist.

Witnesses said they saw the Australian staggering after drinking at the bar in Kuta.

FIJ gathered online that the Indonesian law provides a maximum of 12-year sentence for anyone convicted of physical sexual abuse.

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Soludo terminates Anambra road contract, says contractor may make refund

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A contractor handling a road project in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State may be asked to refund part of the money paid for the job after the road contract has been terminated.

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, who terminated the road contract during an unscheduled visit to the project site, gave the indication.

He accused the contractor of doing a poor job; taking too long to complete the project and ordered the firm to remove its equipment from the site immediately.

Soludo said, “I just called the Commissioner for Works and I have told him that this contract has been terminated.

“See what you are doing. I have terminated the contract, and you are supposed to return the money you were paid.

“We gave you this contract on the basis that you are an indigenous company, but see what you are doing. This is what we see. You blocked the entire highway and nobody can pass. Now that I am going to my hometown, how do I go?

“For months, you blocked the road, even for people to pass through.

“This job was supposed to have been finished in October, and that was the contract you were given.

“Other companies that were given contracts like you have all delivered.”

Despite explanations by the contractor that the road had peculiarities, the governor told him that there are other roads with more difficult terrain and the contractors had delivered.

He added, “I have terminated the contract and there is nothing you can tell me about it. Remove all your equipment from this place and move out because another contractor is coming to take over the job.

“If you continue, it is at your own risk because we are not paying you a dime. Instead, we are asking for a refund.”

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