The Nigerian Air Force has acquired two new Russian Mi-35M fighter jets, which will, among others, combat militant activities in Ikorodu, Lagos State, sources told The PUNCH on Tuesday.
It was also gathered that the military, through Operation Awatse, was putting finishing touches to its plans to launch an aerial offensive on Isawo in the Ikorodu area, believed to be the militants’ stronghold.
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, however, told one of our correspondents that it would not release details of any operation as a formal briefing on Operation Awatse would be held later.
The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, added that the military would not release any sensitive information yet.
“Just be patient with us. You don’t have to jump the gun. I have heard about the incident. We have information at the strategic level, which cannot go out yet,” he stated.
Sources told The PUNCH that the Russian fighter jets would be deployed for operations after the NAF anniversary next week.
Enenche had said last week that Operation Awatse was ongoing, urging the residents of Lagos and Ogun states to supply credible information to the military.
He said, “The Operation Awatse by the Armed Forces is aimed at curbing pipeline vandalism and petroleum products-related criminality with negative socio-economic consequence for the country.
“It is ongoing. Surveillance is key to the success of the military in this operation, which is based on accurate and timely intelligence. In this regard, the general public around Lagos and Ogun states in particular are very useful for more successes in this operation.”
One of the sources, a top NAF officer, said the time of the bombing of the Isawo creeks and environs would depend on several logistics.
He said, “I can confirm to you that the NAF has acquired two new Russian Mi-35M fighter jets, which could be deployed for this operation. The jets will be inducted into the inventory during the NAF anniversary next week.
“It doesn’t cost the military any efforts to bomb the creeks again. It is a big possibility now. But we want to put proper logistics in place to avoid an episode like the Rann camp in Borno State.”
Another source said, “The Operation Awatse men have been given marching orders from the DHQ to step up their game against the militants. They are working on various strategies, including an aerial strike. But it is premature to release lot of information.”
It was also learnt that six Nigerian pilots, training in Russia to man the fighter jets, would return to Nigeria on Thursday (tomorrow).
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )