Reports emanating from Kano State indicate that a coalition of Kano-based Civil Rights Groups are protesting the planned release of the Russian Cargo plane laden with munitions impounded by the Nigerian military at the Aminu Kano International Airport on Saturday.
According to the spokesman of the Coalition, Nura Ma’aji, their protest is to prevent the release of the impounded Russian cargo plane without due process.
“We are here to protest and frustrate plan to release the Russian cargo plane without recourse to due process. As you can see, we are determine to damn the consequesces,” Ma’aji told Vanguard correspondent in Kano moments ago.
He added that, “we have chosen the civilized option to draw the attention of all to the one incident too many, defend our country from profiteers and made it safe for all.”
Meanwhile, Russian government at the weekend stated that the cargo plane actually belongs to them, adding that the military hardware aboard the plane belongs to France.
The Russian Embassy in Nigeria tweeted that the plane is indeed a Russian one but was rented by the French government to carry military hardware for its peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic.
According to the Russian Embassy’s press attache, Artyom Romanov, the French peacekeeping mission in Chad had chartered the Russian plane with Russian crew to transport the cargo.
The statement reads: “Military equipment on board aircraft in Kano enroute CAR (Central African Republic) via Chad, allegedly owned by the French peacekeeping mission.
“The detained Russian plane was chartered by the French peacekeeping mission in Chad and transporting its property.
“The Embassy is taking all measures to ensure the departure of the detained in Kano Russian plane with the French military equipment on board.”
Contrary to earlier reports, Romanov said there were no arms and ammunition aboard the plane.
It would be recalled that a security source had informed newsmen that the plane was detained after it made an authorised landing in the northern city of Kano with military hardware bound for neighbouring Chad.
The source revealed that plane also hard several unrecognised hardwares the Nigerian officials suspect to be ammunitions and special equipment.
FAAN general manager of communication, Yakubu Datti said: “The plane had a technical problem and the pilot sought (for) permission to land at the airport’’.
Mr Datti said that security agencies had since commenced investigation into the matter.
Ali Modu Sheriff, a former governor of Borno State who was accused of sponsoring Boko Haram insurgents, was reported to have lobbied for the release of the Chad-bound cargo aircraft.
Only few hours ago, Sheriff distanced himself from the allegations.
In a statement made public today, December 8, in Maiduguri, the former Borno governor said that his rivals were looking for ways of dragging him into the mud to gain political edge in the fight for the soul of Borno state.