Military loses N4.8bn weapons in North-East since January
The Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army, which are two active forces in the counter-insurgency war in the North-East, have lost over N4.8bn in weaponry in the region between January and May, 2019.
This sum is obtained from estimates of the crashed NAF Mi-35M helicopter, gun trucks, machine guns and other weapons stolen from army bases, according to military sources.
On January 2, the air force’s Mi-35M attack helicopter crashed in the North-East while on a Boko Haram interdiction mission, killing five crew members comprising two pilots and three NAF personnel in Damasak, Borno State.
According to a document, Mi-35M orders and deliveries, the crashed helicopter is estimated at over $12million or N4.6bn.
The records noted that Nigeria placed a contract for six Mi-35M combat helicopters in August 2014 and received the first batch of two helicopters in December 2016.
The second batch of two helicopters was delivered in April 2018. But one of them crashed in Damasak on January 2.
The records noted, “The Brazilian Air Force signed a $150m contract with Rosoboron export for 12 Mi-35M helicopters in November 2008. The first three helicopters were delivered in December 2009.
“Nigeria placed a contract for six Mi-35M combat helicopters in August 2014. The Nigerian Air Force received the first batch of two helicopters in December 2016, while the second batch of two helicopters was delivered in April 2018.”
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, had yet to pick call or respond to a message on estimates of the loss as of press time.
In January 2018, a NAF Mi-17 attack helicopter had also crashed in a counter-insurgency operation in Borno State, with claims from the Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau, that his fighters shot down the military aircraft.
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, however, refuted Shekau’s claims.
Since January 2019, at least five army bases in the North-East have been attacked by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province fighters, leading not only to loss of soldiers, but also costly weapons.
Some weapons were also destroyed by the sect’s Improvised Explosive Devices’ explosions.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that Boko Haram attacked army bases in Geidam, Yobe State; Banki and a Forward Operating Base in Mararrabar Kimba, both in Borno State.
The fighters also attacked bases in the Gubio and the Magumeri Local Government Areas of Borno, carting away undisclosed ammunition.
Although the army didn’t confirm the loss of its weapons, evidence reinforced the developments.
On May 13, the army confirmed that its 154 Task Force Battalion Commander, Lt Col Yusuf Aminu, and two soldiers were killed by IEDs planted by the Boko Haram on the Mauli-Borgozo Road. During the incident, two gun trucks and a Tata truck were damaged by the explosion, according to sources.
Estimates showed that the army had lost over N200m worth of weapons to insurgency since January, although some of them were currently being recovered from the terrorists.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, did not returned our correspondent’s call or respond to a text message sent to his phone as of press time.
The Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, had, on Wednesday, assured troops of plans to induct more weapons into the Operation Lafiya Dole to enhance the counter-terrorism war.
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