A retired Air Commodore Yusuf Anas says there is a need for President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Borno State a no-fly-zone in view of persistent Boko Haram attacks.
Anas said this in an exclusive interview with 21st Century Chronicle on Tuesday.
He said the Northeast, especially Borno state, is in a very precarious security situation due to the nefarious activities of Boko Haram terrorists.
President Buhari on Tuesday during the National Security Council meeting declared Zamfara State a no-fly-zone.
Anas said: “By imposing the no-fly zone it is tantamount to say that there is a state of emergency that has been put in the air. So that any aircraft that is seen within and around Zamfara state can be brought down by the air force.
“It presupposes that perhaps there is an assumption that some aircraft do go around Zamfara state, may be in the middle of the night or at odd hours, and execute some clandestine missions in that particular state.
“The importance of that is that the Northwest has been recently adjudged as one of the most dangerous parts of the country, especially Zamfara state, due to the activities of bandits.
“The no-fly zone is a good step in the right direction, as it will provide the necessary environment for the security agencies to end banditry in Zamfara state.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno disclosed the president’s decision after the meeting, at the Presidential villa, Abuja.
Zamfara State is the epic-centre of banditry in Northwest Nigeria. The bandits use sophisticated weapons, like anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers, to launch attacks on civilian populations.
On whether the president is not misplacing priority by declaring no-fly-zone in Zamfara state while neglecting the Northeast where there are still incessant attacks by Boko haram activities.
Anas said: “We may not have all the information available to Mr. President. I don’t know the yard stick that was used before declaring the no- fly- zone in the state. But I know that it is something that needs to be done and it is being done now.”
He said the “Northeast should have been declared no- fly- zone long before now. Perhaps, for political reasons it has not been done. Because if a state of emergency is declared you stand down all democratic processes in that state. That is the implication. Perhaps the president is being cautious so as not to be seen to truncating some democratic structures. Obviously the Northeast, especially Borno state, is in a very precarious security situation.
Asked whether Nigeria has the capacity to track any aircraft in the no- fly-zone, he said: “ I am not in the position to say whether the military has the capacity to do that, but I know that there have been concerted efforts before I left the service about seven years ago to have a total radar coverage of the entire country.
“The air force has ISR aircrafts which they use in mapping out different parts of the country with a view to detecting movement of airplanes and enemy forces within an area. Perhaps, having them put a no-fly-zone is like cordoning the area and making it exclusively for military use. So any aircraft intruding in the no fly zone area can be termed as an enemy target and be brought down. I think they may have some capacity that is why they are putting it as a no fly zone.”