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Nigerian Military Expands Air Flights In Northeast To Curb Abduction Of Soldiers

Military authorities have begun to schedule flights for soldiers on short visit passes away from their units. The move comes after a series of abductions of soldiers travelling through high risk areas.

The Nigerian military is expanding airlift in the Northeast region to include frequent flights services for counter insurgency troops travelling on pass to curb abduction of personnel on highways.

Over the years, off duty military personnels have been abducted and killed along roads, particularly the Damaturu-Maiduguri road, which connects the headquarters of the counter-insurgency operations in Borno, the capital of neighbouring Yobe State and links the region with other parts of the country.

In July, authorities suspended the issuance of passes to personnel for short travel away from their units after the abduction of some soldiers travelling in a commercial vehicleĀ  on the Damaturu-Maiduguri road by ISWAP.

The movement of personnel was advised to be conducted through a welfare flight scheme or armed escort to Damaturu while officers and junior ranks were warned not to use public transport.

On Monday, Aug 9,Ā  Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) flagged off welfare flight for troops proceeding on pass to and fro the theatre of operations to other parts of the country.

According to an Aug 10 statement by Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director Army Public Relations, the Nigerian Air Force had allocated C-130 transport aircraft to lift troops, personnel of other security agencies and military civilian support staff from Maiduguri.

ISWAP is notorious for setting up checkpoints to intercept supplies heading to or from Maiduguri. The terror group also intercepts vehicles to screen,Ā  abduct or kill commuters that fall within a category of people such as students, security personnel and aid workers.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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