For the third time in five years foreign airplanes allegedly laden with dangerous weapons and assorted military hardware were detained by security personnel soon after making emergency landings at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, but were immediately released after scantly and unsatisfactory investigations have been conducted. The latest of this incidence involved a Russian cargo plane, Antonov, whose cargo included a jeep and two helicopters, bullet proof vests and strongboxes whose contents were not disclosed but believed to be stuffed with arms and ammunitions.
The N’djamena-bound plane, in Chad Republic, originated from Bangui in the Central African Republic, were French recent sectarian violence engineered by France tore the country apart. That forced a large number of Muslims to flee the country, seeking refuge in neighbouring Francophone countries that share common border with Nigeria’s north-east region. It was surprising how the plane detoured from its original route N’Djamena to Kano, a city situated hundreds of kilometres away from Nigeria’s border with Chad Republic, considering that the plane had to overfly the Chadian airspace before landing there.
Initially, Russia denied owning the plane and urged that it had no connection with the two countries linked with it. Nevertheless, it admitted ownership after France had claimed the cargo in the plane belonged to it. French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, admitted that his country charted the Russian plane to help it convey some military hardware belonging to its peacekeeping force from Bangui in the Central African Republic to N’djamena in Chad Republic, but denied that the cargo included arms and ammunition.
Few moments after the plane was intercepted Nigerian government hinted that it was not in a hurry to release it despite France admitting that the military hardware found on the plane belongs to it; but hours later it made a u-turn by ordering for its immediate and unconditional release. Unconfirmed reports later quoted Kano Airport official as saying that the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, allegedly inspected the plane late Saturday night, soon after it was seized. It was not clear why the former governor, a buddy of President Goodluck Jonathan and an ally of Chadian President, Idrees Debby, visited the plane but there were allegations he might have lobbied for the release of the plane.
Incidentally, the unexpected landing of the plane sparked rounds of protests by youth activists that flooded Malam Aminu Kano International Airport expressing their indignation about the Chad-bound Russian aircraft. The protesters who are members of a coalition of Northern youth organisation, Northern Consensus Movement, NCM, said it was important they have valid explanation from relevant authorities on the seeming federal government’s relationship with the Chad-bound aircraft allegedly laden with military hardware.
The president of the Movement, Ibrahim Wala, said with the incessant terrorist’s attacks rocking Nigeria’s northeast, it is impossible and unwise to overlook the sudden appearance of a cargo plane laden with weapons including helicopters and a combat vehicle in that vicinity. The Youth leaders expressed grave concern over the regularity of such ugly incidence of arms-haul at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport and the obvious failure of the authorities in offering any tangible explanation with regards to the destination of the cargoes.
The youths were obviously piqued by recent reports that point accusing fingers to the Chadian Government concerning the relationship of Chadian president with Nigerian politicians that have also been indicted in clandestine and despicable deals. Recent reports have revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan, in company of the former Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, had an exclusive audience with Chadian President, Idrees Debby. Although the details of that meeting were not made public, President Jonathan immediately encored his visit to his Chadian counterpart and the outcome of that meeting, which included senior officials on Nigerian and Chadian officials, still remained undisclosed.
What is more disconcerting about that plane was its link with Central African Republic, a country devastated by sectarian conflicts engineered by France to perfect its ugly designs against a particular people whose faith it detested and vowed to exterminate. In both Cameroon and Central African Republics French anti-Islamic attitude is quite perceptible and already Muslims in high positions in the bureaucracy of the two countries are being eliminated and removed from the commanding heights of commerce and industry. The same scenario is currently unfolding in Northern Nigeria where sectarian conflicts are putting great strain on the polity.
Everyone knows what role France has played in the two countries of Burundi and Rwanda, neighbouring Central African Republic, where there had been genocide of unprecedented proportions. The Hutu and Tutsi, both predominant ethnic stocks in both countries, engaged in horrifying genocide and within weeks millions of people were left dead in a scuffle they called ethnic-cleansing. Already some Nigerian politicians, living and dead had advocated the same scenario in Northern Nigeria where a particular group, likened to the Tutsi of Rwanda, is to be given the same treatment prescribed to the Tutsi by the French. Now, could the appearance of such planes laden with dangerous weapons whenever they are apprehended portend the commencement of similar calamity in Nigeria aided and abetted by France? That is a wake-up call for all Nigerians, and may God forbid bad things.