from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE acquisition of a Mi-171E helicopter from Serbia is anticipated to bolster the fight against the Boko Haram militants and other violent crimes in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of the craft, the second of its kind bought by the West African country from Serbia, at its base in Markudi in the eastern Benue State on Wednesday afternoon.
Its components came aboard an Ilyushin 76 Strategic Airlifter aircraft.
The latest Mi-171E brings to 23 the total number of brand new aircraft acquired since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari won elections on a campaign premised on the fight against the Boko Haram.
“The new aircraft will undoubtedly boost NAF’s contributions in the fight against insurgency, armed banditry and other criminal activities in the country,” Air Commodore Ibinkule Daramola, the director of Public Relations and Information at the NAF, stated.
The newly-received aircraft will now be assembled in Makurdi by a team from the equipment vendor, assisted by NAF technicians, prior to test-flying and formal induction into the NAF In production since 1977, the Mi-171E was primarily used in Russia.
According to experts, prices vary based on specifications (military and civilian prices differ), the price of a Mi-17V-5 is €12.5 million.
Mi-171E is equipped with VK-2500-03 engines to operate in extreme temperature limits, from −58 to 50 Celsius.
Africa’s biggest country by population, estimated at over 206 million people, Nigeria is under threat of the Islamist Boko Haram sect.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 35 000 people have been killed while more than two million others were displaced northeast of the country during the violent campaign to establish as Islamic state.
Attacks started in 2009.
The killing of some 110 farmers and workers in the region last weekend is the largest death toll recorded so far this year.
At least 30 of the victims were reportedly beheaded and several women allegedly kidnapped.
The armed extremist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack, which they asserted was collective punishment for the farmers collaborating with Nigeria’s security forces.
The attack while the civilians were tilling rice fields in the village of Koshobe outside the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, has sparked the outrage of the Security Council.
– CAJ News