The Nigerian Airforce has refuted news reports that it has deployed 100 aircraft in search of the recently abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.
In an e-mailed statement to The Trent on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 signed by Air Vice Marshall Olatokunbo Adesanya, the director of public relations and information of the Nigerian Airforce, NAF said that there was a misunderstanding between what a sortie is and an aircraft.
NAF Did Not Deploy 100 Aircraft to Search for Dapchi Girls- Airforce Spokesman
The attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to a statement being circulated to the effect that 100 NAF aircraft had been deployed in search of the missing Dapchi girls. While paying a courtesy call on the Executive Governor of Yobe State, in company of the Chief of the Air Staff, on 27 February 2018, the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, indeed spoke about the number of sorties so far conducted by NAF aircraft in the course of searching for the missing girls within a stated period. Obviously, the number of sorties does not equate the number of aircraft deployed.
In a related development, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has temporarily relocated to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base at Maiduguri, from where the air search operations for the missing Dapchi girls are being coordinated. This is in order to have first hand information on the progress of the air search efforts and also give additional directives as might be necessary. The National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Monguno was equally at the NAF Base Maiduguri, where he spoke to and encouraged the NAF personnel involved in the day and night air search operations.
Furthermore, both the NSA and the CAS visited Damaturu, where they paid a courtesy call on His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, during which they held useful discussions regarding the missing girls. Later in the day, the NSA, accompanied by the CAS and other top military officers, travelled to Monguno to commission new projects at 171 NAF Detachment Monguno. The newly commissioned projects include the Unit’s Headquarters Complex, a block of 4 Single Officers’ Quarters, a block of 10 flats for airmen/airwomen and 2 helipads, all of which have just been constructed.
According to the Commander of the Air Task Force, Air Vice Marshal Idi Lubo, air power projection has limitations, one of which is reach. He therefore expressed his delight, noting that with the commissioning of the projects at 171 NAF Detachment Monguno, the NAF had just extended the reach of its helicopters. In his remarks at the commissioning ceremony, the CAS stated that the projects were undertaken in pursuit of the NAF’s commitment to ensuring security in the Northeast. He added that the NAF would continue to deploy air assets in all parts of the country towards ensuring that Nigerians are able to prosecute their businesses in a safe and secured environment. On the missing Dapchi girls, Air Marshal Abubakar declared that no efforts would be spared by the NAF in locating the girls, in conjunction with other security forces. He disclosed that NAF pilots on different NAF platforms were operating day and night to locate the girls, adding that he had decided to temporarily relocate to Maiduguri, given the import of the unfortunate incident.
While commissioning the projects, the Special Guest of Honour, Mohammed Monguno, lauded the monumental achievements of the NAF under its current leadership. He recalled that 171 NAF Detachment Monguno was only established in 2017; he was therefore surprised to see all that had been accomplished within the short period. He described the feats as a testimony to the zeal and commitment of the CAS to repositioning the NAF into a highly professional force in line with his clearly stated vision. The NSA also described the establishment of NAF presence in Monguno as being long overdue, as it would add the much needed value to the efforts of the other security agencies in ensuring peace in the Northeast. Speaking further, the NSA commended the NAF for its immense contributions to the overall efforts at degrading the capability of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) while urging NAF personnel to remain steadfast. He equally seized the opportunity to appreciate President Buhari for his support to the Armed Forces of Nigeria in ensuring the sustenance of operations.
Also commissioned yesterday, by the NSA, were a newly constructed Fire Fighting and an Aircraft Arming Bay at NAF Base Maiduguri. It is recalled that the Dapchi girls were declared missing on 19 February 2018 after reported attacks by BHTs following which the NAF immediately commenced an air search for them. The NAF has had to deploy additional air assets, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, to the Northeast, on 25 February 208, in a renewed effort at locating the missing girls. The CAS was still in the Northeast as at the time of writing this report.