The Federal Government says it is yet to take delivery of any of the 12 A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft, being manufactured by an American aerospace contractor, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Federal Government in February, 2018 placed an order for the 12 Super Tucano aircraft at a cost of $496million.
Responding to questions from newsmen at the launch, Mohammed said earlier delivery of the aircraft would boost the war against insurgency, which had metamorphosed from a rash-tag home grown Boko Haram group to a world teste terrorist network.
Mohammed, who solicited the support and prayers of all Nigerians for the troops fighting insurgency, added that Nigeria was still getting the backing of other countries through the Multinational Joint Task Force.
Mohammed said the launch of the National Campaign in Support of the Military was to seek the support of the citizens for the troops.
He admonished Nigerians to stop vilification, insults and other acts capable of of dampening the morale of the military, especially those fighting insurgency.
The minister stressed that the men and women in uniform who were risking all, including making the supreme sacrifice, to keep the country safe deserved the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification.
“Doctored videos and pictures purporting to show massive military casualties are willfully circulated online.
“Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing our troops, and must stop forthwith,” he said.
The minister also solicited the support of the media to play the leading role in the campaign.
“We want to appeal to the media to show utmost professionalism in reporting the insurgency.
“They must seek official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and must realise that the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families.
“They must also not reveal national security as well as military plans, since such acts can put our troops in harm’s way,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, Director, Defence Information expressed delight over the launch, adding that the time to stand in support of the military was long overdue.
He noted that the responsible journalism was needed more than ever, owing to the fact that publicity fuels terrorism.
To buttress his claim, Agim recalled an incidence in 2016 when 18 of the most wanted Book Haram members escaped into Lagos metropolis and the military had to keep the news a top secret.
He noted that if such scoop had leaked out to any journalist, it would be unpatriotic and irresponsible to publish the news because of the trauma it would have caused among Lagos residents.
The Defence spokesperson also recalled when a journalist called him for confirmation of a purported story that the military was short of and rationing ammunition in the North-East.
He said if the fake news was even to be real, it fell into the categories of stories that ought not to be published by responsible journalists because of its tendency to make people unsecured and lose hope.
Agim appealed to the media to avoid publishing stories that would break the spirit of the fighting force, promote cowardice and cause panic among citizens.
The event was attended by Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, Director, Army Public Relations, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Airforce and Commodore Suleiman Dahum, Director Information, Nigerian Navy
Gunmen Kill 66 In Kaduna
Among the victims were 22 children and 12 women, while four wounded persons were rescued alive by security agencies.
The latest attack is coming barely 24 hours to the Presidential and National Assembly election tomorrow.
The state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who Confirmed the incident disclosed that security agencies have been deployed to the area, while some people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
He also appeals to residents of the affected communities against instigating attacks or reprisals.
“Government condemns the attacks and commiserates with the families of the victims. Security agencies have been deployed to the area and arrests have been made.
“The government urges community, traditional and religious leaders in the area to encourage residents to avoid any reprisal attacks and to leave the matter in the hands of the security and law enforcement agencies.
“The killings are being investigated and residents are assured that indicted persons will be prosecuted.
“Residents of Kaduna state are enjoined to uphold peace and harmony, shun violence and allow the elections to be held in an atmosphere of calm”.
‘Four Killed’ in Stampede at Buhari’s Rivers Rally
Four persons reportedly died in a stampede during the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign rally in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, on Tuesday.
Sources said gates of Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium where the event held were locked on arrival of President Muhammadu Buhari and people who tried to exit were trampled upon.
Some of the people who sustained injuries at the stadium have been evacuated and taken to the hospital for treatment.
On Thursday, at least two persons were killed during the party’s presidential rally in Jalingo, Taraba capital.
Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, who confirmed the incident, said the deaths were caused by overcrowding at the Jolly Nyame stadium where the rally held.
In a statement, Buhari expressed sadness over the incident, saying he wished they were alive to “witness the dividends of purposeful governance” if and when he is re-elected.
“I always feel very sad and distressed when ordinary Nigerians who love me and our party because of what we stand for and have done, make personal sacrifices by taking the pains to show their support, end their lives tragically,” Buhari had said.
There is no official information yet over the Port Harcourt incident.
NAF Aircraft Destroys Boko Haram Training Camp In Borno
The Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE has destroyed an Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) training camp and neutralized several terrorists at Malkonory in Northern Borno State.
This was disclosed by the director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.
He said the operation was executed yesterday, 10 February 19, after Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft observed significant human activities with several structures, equipment and vehicles spotted camouflaged under the dense vegetation in the area used by the terrorists for training.
The NAF spokesman said in accordance with the intelligence gathered, two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft were dispatched to attack the location, dropping their bombs successfully within the camp leading to massive fires and resulting in the neutralizing of several terrorists.
Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) by NAF and allied ISR later revealed that the terrorists suffered heavy casualties as a result of the air strikes.
The NAF promised to sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the Northeast, while operating in concert with surface forces.
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