Information made available by Nigeria’s Armed Forces to the National Assembly, through the legislative committees, show that the United States restricted use of its A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets strictly for the fight against terrorists and insurgents, and not bandits, as a condition for sale.
This condition continues to deter the fight against bandits operating in Nigeria’s northwest.
National Assembly sources also disclosed that it informed the recent resolution by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Federal Government should put bandits on the terror list.
The Federal Government had in February 2018 placed an order for 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft at a cost of $496m, while the Nigerian Air Force took delivery of the first batch of six aircrafts in July 22, 2021.
With delivery of the outstanding taken in September, and the training of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force, the procurement can be said to be completed.
However, this restrictive condition of sale of these fighter aircrafts has frustrated their effective deployment against bandits.
The House of Representatives had on September 30, 2021, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to designate bandits and their sponsors as terrorists.
The Senate had made the demand the previous day.
However, acting Public Affairs Counselor, Jeanne Clark, explained that the use of the weapons would be subject to the Leahy vetting, a law which is an American rights law that prohibit the US government from providing military assistance to foreign security force units that violate human rights with impunity.
“All potential US defence sales are carefully assessed under the US government’s Conventional Arms Transfer Policy to examine issues, including human rights, regional security, and non-proliferation concerns, to determine whether a sale is in the best foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” Clark said.