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Friday, June 26, 2009

MEM 4-060

Plane Loaded With Arms Seized in Kano

Abdul Salam Muhammad, 18 June 2009 Kano — SECURITY operatives attached to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) early yesterday morning impounded a Ukrainian cargo plane loaded with a range of sophisticated weapons.

The cargo plane with registration number UR-CAK, and a crew of four was believed to be heading to Equatorial Guinea when it suddenly made a technical landing in Kano at about 2.00 a.m. yesterday.

  • Security sources at the airport told Vanguard that the circumstances of the landing made curious security operatives on duty to undertake a full search of the cargo plane's hold and its contents.
  • Vanguard further gathered that in the course of the search, the security operatives discovered ordnance of various nature and assorted sophisticated arms and ammunition in several quantities.
  • Consequently, all four crew members were arrested and taken out of public glare, ostensibly for questioning.
  • Further, a Nigerian who claimed to be a clearing agent was seen making frantic moves to secure the release of the cargo plane. He was also taken into custody.

When Vanguard visited the airport yesterday afternoon, heavily armed military personnel had been deployed and have taken over the security of the airport, while the area where the Russian-built plane was parked at the hanger was cordoned off.

  • It was also learnt that the Air Force has been placed on alert to confront any suspicious plane that may breach the nation's airspace.
  • Efforts to take photo shots of the Ukraine cargo plane painted in white, with red stripes was rebuffed by the security operatives.
  • The Airport Commandant, Group Captain Abagboyi was not available to confirm the development, while efforts to secure the comments of the Director-General of State Security Services in Kano also failed as the Director, Bello Tukur told Vanguard he was out of the city on official duty.

But an Army general who declined to be named confirmed the development to Vanguard when contacted, saying the military has commenced full investigations into the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the cargo plane and its contents in Nigeria.

Similarly, Emmanuel Ojukwu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who is also the Force spokesman confirmed seizure of the plane by military authorities, but declined to give further details.

*******

Other comments suggest that

  • It also emerged yesterday that seven Ukrainians, not four, were arrested on board the aircraft.
  • 18 Crates were unloaded
  • The Directorate of Military Intelligence has Taken Over
  • A Suggestion that the Arms were bound for the Niger Delta Rebels.
  • sources said intelligence officers are working on the theory that arms were supplied to the militants from Ukraine via Malabo, where they are believed to have a strong network for the weapons they are using in their face-off with the Nigerian military.
  • A Customs officer, who was said to have tried to clear the "cargo", is also in detention, although other sources said it was a clearing agent named Sylvester, who allegedly also works with one of the airlines in the country, is the one in detention
  • The impounded aircraft with registration number MEM 4-060 (UR-CAK) is still parked at the airport.

Meanwhile, the Ukrai-nian news agency yesterday quoted Nikolai Minyailo, the director-general of the company that owns the detained aircraft as saying that there were "absolutely no violations concerning the plane, cargo or the documents used. "The aircraft landed in Nigeria for re-fueling," Minyailo said. He expressed hope that the situation would be sorted out soon.

The Rest @ Fly AFrica Forums

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