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Boko Haram: ‘How foreign mercenaries were used as disguised instructors’

A former Chief of Administration Nigerian Air Force headquarters, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Alkali Mamu, has testified in the trial of a four-count charge of bribery brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

Manu, told Justice Salihu Garba of a Federal Capital Territory High Court, how foreign mercenary pilots were engaged to combat Boko Haram terrorists in disguised as instructors.

Led in evidence-in-chief by his counsel, Chief Joseph Daudu,SAN, the defendant said the Office of the National Security Adviser, (ONSA), decided to assist the Nigerian Air Force by engaging these mercenaries due to “the terrible performance of our armed forces at the height of the war against Boko Haram towards the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2014.”

“I was in Ukraine when this covert and sensitive military assignment was given to one Hima Abubakar of Societe D’Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited (the company EFCC said he received the bribe from) by the NSA. Abubakar identified three mercenary fighter pilots, soldiers of fortune and veterans of many wars who were willing to take up this job,” he said.

Manu further said he was ordered by the Chief of Air Staff to link with Abubakar to aid the medical examination and process entry visas into Nigeria for the three Ukrainian mercenary pilots that were coming to fly the MI35P helicopters.

Further in his testimonial, he added that due to the undercover nature of the assignments, transactions and documentations were mainly “in pseudo or disguised form, including monies and properties which formed part of this charge against me.”

“My Lord, these are matters that will expose Nigeria’s contravention of the United Nation’s Charter of armed conflicts, especially Resolution 44/34,” he said.

Mamu added that his evidence may also expose diplomats and foreign nationals that came to the assistance of Nigeria and may lead to their criminal prosecution for war crime-related offences.

“Again, it may also lead to sanctions against Nigeria, including embargoes on sales of arms. It is for these reasons the court was being pleaded with to continue in chamber,” he said, before adding that the introduction of the mercenaries was a game changer for the NAF.

Mamu said with the introduction of the mercenaries, the NAF was able to commence night bombardments of Boko Haram with devastating effects.

“Sadly, nearly three months after, one of the Ukrainian fighter pilots, Captain Chup Vasyl crashed while on night combat and died.

“I was ordered by the Chief of Air Staff to inform Abubakar and there was need to make payment to the family of the late pilot as the insurance cover was not fully processed at the time of the accident. I consequently wired the sum of $100,000 to the family of late Cpt Vasyl,” Mamu said.

He said he was also ordered by the Chief of Air Staff to get permission from the family of the late Cpt Vasyl for the remains to be cremated.

“This became necessary because there was practically nothing left of the remains,” he said.

He added that with the permission of the family gotten and in view of the sensitive nature of the cause of death, “the leadership of Nigerian Air Force obtained certificate of death and classified the cause of death as a result of car crash.”

The trial judge has adjourned the matter till November 6, for continuation.

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