As the Nigerian military gets set to deploy the Super Tucano fighter jets, the United States of America has advised the federal government not to use the aircraft in operations that encroach on traditional law enforcement role which is under police authority.
The United States also warned Nigeria that the use of the Super Tucano must comply with international norms as articulated in the United Nations Charter.
The US gave the warning on Thursday as the Nigerian military was set to deploy the Super Tucano aircraft in the North-West and North-Central after the Federal Government officially designated bandits in the regions as terrorists,
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Air Commodore Wap Maigida, allayed fear of civilian casualties during the deployment of the fighter jets against bandits in the forests.
Earlier on Thursday, the Press Attaché, US Embassy, Jeanne Clark, in reaction to a statement by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), that the Federal Government had secured approval to deploy the jet fighters which were acquired from the US, against bandits who had just been designated as terrorists, acknowledged the security challenges confronting Nigeria.
The US, however admonished the government of Nigeria and the military to address insecurity while respecting human rights
The military had been reluctant to deploy the aircraft outside the North-East because of the conditions attached to the sale of the aircraft which bordered on human rights.
Clark in her statement said the US government was, however, pleased that the Nigerian Air Force had used the A-29 Super Tucanos successfully against Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province.
She stated, “We are pleased the Nigerian Air Force has used the A-29 Super Tucanos successfully against Boko Haram and ISIS-WA. The sale of the A-29 Super Tucanos is governed by the US Arms Export Control Act, the Foreign Assistance Act, and other applicable statutes, and their use must conform with international norms as articulated in the United Nations Charter.
“The AECA applies to sales to all of our allies and partners and it generally cautions against uses that encroach on traditional law enforcement roles. We are proud to partner with the government of Nigeria towards shared goals.”
A top source within the military told The PUNCH that the military had been engaged in talks with the Americans regarding the use of the aircraft.
The Nigerian Air Force officer who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said agreements had been reached on how to best deploy the weapons and ensure that civilian casualty is minimised.
A top military officer said, “We now have the green light to deploy the Super Tucano aircraft. Based on the gazette issued by the AGF, all persons kidnapping and killing in the North-Central and North-West are terrorists. Of course, there is a need to separate armed robbers from terrorists.
“So, our operations will centre on forests and known bandits camps. The US will continue to assist with training to prevent the bombing of IDP camps and other civilian habitations.”