The Presidency says Nigeria will procure weapons including fighter helicopters from Russia to enhance the nation’s ongoing fight against insurgency, banditry and violence crimes.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made this known when he fielded questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday.
The presidential aide, who is on President Muhammadu Buhari’s entourage to Sochi, Russia, said the Nigerian leader would hold security talks with President Vladimir Putin at the sideline of the Russia-Nigeria Summit, fixed for between October 23 and October 25.
According to Shehu, during the talks, the two leaders will discuss arms and weapon procurement to assist Nigeria towards ending the insurgency, particularly the Boko Haram activities in North East region of the country.
“Russia has been doing a lot to support our military, although I’m not suggesting that we have engaged them as fully as we should have.
“I think that this visit presents a unique opportunity for our two presidents to sit down and discuss particularly weapon procurement including of course helicopters which Russians can supply and would be useful to Nigeria towards ending the insurgency particularly in the north eastern part of the country.
“So, I believe that arms procurement to which the Russians are favourably disposed will form a big part of this conversation,’’ he explained.
Shehu further disclosed that the details of the procurement exercise would be made available in due course.
The presidential media aide recalled that the previous attempts by Nigeria to procure similar weapons from Russia were frustrated by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States of America.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Buhari has since departed Nigeria for Sochi to participate in the summit, which will focus on exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology as well as gas production.
Those on the president’s entourage included governors Muhammad Yahaya of Gombe, Bello Matawalle of Zamfara and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
Others also on the trip are ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, and Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.