Journalists were on Tuesday prevented from covering the induction ceremony of the six newly acquired A-29 Super Tucano aircraft into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Order of Battle.
They were denied access to the Presidential Fleet Apron, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja as they were told by the armed security operatives stationed at the venue and other locations at the airport, that the ceremony had been postponed.The security operatives included men from the military and para-military organisations.
But a top official from the United States embassy in Nigeria said the induction was neither cancelled nor postponed as claimed by the security agents, Daily Trust reports.
The official further said the ceremony was done ‘quietly’, adding that he had no idea why the military prevented journalists from attending the ceremony.
Spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, had on July 22, 2021, announced the arrival of the first batch of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft in Kano.
He disclosed that the aircraft were received by the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd), alongside the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao.
Officials of the United States, the country where the fighter jets were acquired, had on Monday during a roundtable meeting with selected media houses, said US would help Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, using A-29 Super Tucano.
According to the Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe and Africa, Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the induction of A-29 Super Tucano into Nigerian Air Force operations, will be a defining moment in combating terrorism and other violent extremism.
He explained that the acquisition of the fighter aircraft for the Nigerian military had brought in a multitude of capabilities that would help in tackling the prevailing instability in Nigeria.
“Importantly, the platform itself brings a multitude of capabilities and this is not just about weapons, it is about intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, it is about that operability that it provides between the air component and the ground component.”
“And so, it broadens the shared understanding of the force to be able to operate in these different domains.
“And, we see this as a great opportunity to work together in these different areas to deepen our partnership and look for future opportunities, whether it be training or intelligence because part of what we offer and what we are going to work together is really the full package.
“And, when we talk about the maintenance of an aircraft, when we talk about the tactics, techniques and procedures that the pilots use, those are all things, we are going to continue to refine together with the Nigerian Air Force.
“And, we see this as really an opportunity to broaden those areas where we have these shared values and areas that we’re going to work together to ultimately work to improve the security instability and work in partnership with all the things that the embassy does,” he had said.