The newsmen detailed to cover the induction ceremony of the six newly acquired A-29 Super Tucano aircraft into the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Order of Battle, were on Tuesday barred from gaining entrance to the Presidential Air Fleet Apron, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Armed security operatives from both military and para-military organisations, who were stationed at the venue of the ceremony and other strategic locations at the airport, told newsmen that the event had been postponed.
But a top official from the United States embassy in Nigeria told Daily Trust that the induction was neither cancelled nor postponed as informed by the security agents, saying the ceremony was done ‘quietly’.
When asked why the government and the military took the decision of barring journalists from the function, the official said he had no knowledge about the decision.
Spokesman of 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.
Our correspondent reports that officials of the United States, the country where the fighter jets were acquired, had on Monday during a roundtable meeting with selected media houses including Daily Trust, said U.S. 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 said 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.
Efforts to reach NAF spokesman, Gabkwet, were unsuccessful as calls put across to his mobile phone were not answered.
He also failed to respond to a text message sent to him as at when this report was filed.