Mar. 22, 2014
By now a responsible Nigerian government would have done certain things. Either they announce to us that they take this information and threat to national security very serious and are investigating it fully, but assure Nigerians that there is no evidence of credibility to the revelation. Or they announce immediate severance of all ties with Turkey pending a thorough investigation on the allegations of Turkish airlines supplying ammunition to Nigerian terrorists groups.
A lack of a formal statement by the government is troubling. The embattled Turkish Premiere, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the confession of Mehmet Karatas, an assistant executive of the Turkish airlines.
In an official statement by Turkish airlines, the company categorically declared that it “had not transported arms to Nigeria from Turkey or other countries.”
However, contradicting the statement by the airlines, and appearing in a hurry to squash the possible scandal, Navy spokesman, Commodore Kabiru Aliyu told Nigerians according to the Punch, that Turkish airlines did indeed ship ammunition to Nigeria, not as they denied, and that this March the Navy took delivery of arms imported by the airline through Lagos.
This is serious. Why is the Navy spokesperson contradicting the official statement of the airlines? Who is telling us the truth? Does Turkish airlines ship arms to Nigeria as our Navy has said, or does it not as they have said? Did Turkish airlines ship arms to unknown entities through the Kano international airport as company executive Karatas said? Was Navy spokesperson Commodore Aliyu telling us that the airline does handle weapons shipment to Nigeria to alert us that the airline is lying by saying they do not?
There are many serious open questions that the public wish to have answered. In June last year there was a (another) case of a Ukranian cargo plane, which was detained loaded with deadly weapons in Nigeria. The NSA, Sambo Dasuki permitted this plane which according to the news reports, had claimed it had a technical fault preempting its landing in Nigeria with the dangerous contraband, to continue its alleged journey to the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
An earlier instance had a plane land in Nigeria with crates of mines and other weapons, allegedly on its way to war-torn Equatorial Guinea. In each of these instances, the planes apparently did not give the required prior notice that they were loaded with deadly weapons before entering Nigerian territory, and this lead to the publicized alert of their detention. In all cases including the recent report of the Turkish airlines, the planes landed in Kano international airport in the north of Nigeria and the neighborhood of the Boko Haram hot bed.
Again, in May last year when an arms cache was found in bunkers with Lebanese men accused of terrorism in Kano, the nation’s three-time former NSA, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, now chosen by the Jonathan government as the Minister of defense, was fingered as being involved according to the investigating army spokesperson Lieutenant Ikedichi Iweha, the NigerianPilot and other dailies reported.
Does Nigeria act appropriately when arms are smuggled or cargoed into and through its borders? Is there a top-level Nigerian government involvement in smuggling deadly arms to terrorist groups in Nigeria, and what level are we talking about who may be involved in the Turkish airline ‘confession?’
Turkish airlines is 49% government owned and Turkey has in the past been accused of supplying weapons including chemical weapons to Syrian rebel groups. The UAE has also announced in 2011 the seizure of a weapons loaded Turkey-originated ship bound for terrorized Yemen.
Are top levels in the Nigerian government involved in the supply of deadly weapons to Boko Haram through our ports? Is Nigeria a hob in the weapons supply path to terror groups and conflict zones in Africa? This matter should be headlines.