Nigerian air force aircraft in the agitated southwest

WEST AFRICA—As Nigeria’s southeast continues to face serious attacks from Boko Haram, the country’s air force on Tuesday said it will is ready to position aircraft to the West Africa nation’s southeast region where unrest linked to a campaign for secession by Biafra’s activists has escalated.

Authorities in Nigeria say military presence in the southeast has increased in the past weeks in what the military called an efforts to crack down on crime, kidnapping and secessionist agitation.

“The essence of the deployment is to provide the necessary air cover to the ground troops to enhance overall operational cohesion and efficiency,” said Olatokunbo Adesanya, a spokesman for Nigerian Air Force (NAF).

“The request by the Nigerian Army for close air support made the involvement of the NAF inevitable,” he added.

Eye witnesses in the region say the deployment of the military increased tension between the Nigerian troops and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) secessionist group.
Last week the people of Biafra blamed soldiers of erecting a blockade to their leader’s home, but the army denied the accusation.

A curfew was subsequently imposed in Abia state, where the residence is located, and the
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army on Friday branded the IPOB as a “terrorist organization” as well as imposed a curfew in Abia state, a location hosting the location of their leader.
In 1969, the people of Biafra led a separatist rebellion that plunged Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, into a civil war until 1970. That war is said to have killed an estimated one million people.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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