462MIL DOLLARS AIRCRAFT PURCHASE : US KEEPS MUM OVER PURCHASE TERMS

Adelani Adepegba, Alexander Okere and Etim Ekpimah

The United States Government has kept mum over the delivery date and payment options involved in the purchase of the $462m A-29 Tucano light attack aircraft by Nigeria.

It referred all inquiries on the issue to the Federal Government, noting that the latter was in a better position to disclose the payment and delivery options.

“We refer you to the Government of Nigeria to discuss payment and delivery options,” the US Mission Information Officer, Russel Brooks, said in an emailed response on Friday.

He explained that the acquisition of the aircraft was facilitated by the Embassy’s Office of Security Cooperation, which worked closely with the Federal Government on the purchase and associated training, which Brooks said would deepen the US’ security partnership with Nigeria, boost closer cooperation and develop the capabilities needed to share the burden of defeating terrorist organisations.

The mission stated that the training included in the comprehensive package was designed specifically for Nigeria and would help build the skills and procedures to effectively and responsibly operate the aircraft in accordance with international human rights law and the law of armed conflict.

Explaining the parameters for the aircraft purchase, the US Mission spokesperson said, “The parameters of the sale were designed in cooperation with Nigeria to meet its unique security needs. The aircraft offers improved targeting capabilities, allowing Nigeria to more effectively mitigate civilian harm and lead the fight against Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa.”

The aircraft’s purchase has been a subject of controversy in the country following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of $462m for the deal without legislative approval.

Some senators had on Thursday called for the impeachment of the President over an alleged breach of the 1999 Constitution for the withdrawal of the funds without due process.

The lawmaker representing the Edo South Senatorial District, Matthew Urhoghide, who is the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, had moved the motion for the President’s impeachment and urged the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to allow the Senate to invoke Section 143 of the Constitution.

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