Boko Haram held a swathe of territories and carried out fatal attacks in the federal capital territory (FCT) in the early days of the Jonathan administration.
But in the third quarter of 2014, the government began to push back the insurgents. This was the time Mamu claimed the government hired mercenary pilots to carry out air-raids on Boko Haram targets in Sambisa forest.
Testifying before an FCT high court on Friday, the ex-military officer, who is facing charges of bribery brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the mercenaries disguised as instructors.
He said they were hired because of “the terrible performance of our armed forces at the height of the war against Boko Haram towards the second and third quarters of 2014”.
“I was in Ukraine when this covert and sensitive military assignment was given to one Hima Abubakar of Societe D’Equipments Internationaux Nigeria Limited (the company EFCC said he received the bribe from) by the NSA. Abubakar identified three mercenary fighter pilots, soldiers of fortune and veterans of many wars willing to take up this job,” he said.
Mamu said the mercenaries were brought into the country clandestinely to fly MI35P helicopters, and that the assignment, transactions and documentation were done “in pseudo or disguised form, including monies and properties which form part of this charge against me”.
The ex-air force officer drew the court’s attention to the sensitive nature of his disclosure. He also said his evidence might implicate diplomats and foreigners who helped Nigeria in the time of need.
“My Lord, these are matters that will expose Nigeria’s contravention of the United Nation’s Charter of armed conflicts especially resolution 44/34,” he said.
“It may also lead to sanctions against Nigeria, including embargoes on sales of arms. It is for these reasons the court was being pleaded with to continue in chamber,” he said.
But Salisu Garba, the judge, asked him to continue his testimony in open court.
Mamu said the introduction of the mercenaries had a “devastating effect” on the Boko Haram insurgency, but that one of “soldiers of fortune” died in an air crash.
“Sadly, nearly three months after, one of the Ukrainian fighter pilots, Captain Chup Vasyl crashed while on night combat and died. I was ordered by the chief of air staff to inform Abubakar and there was need to make payment to the family of the late pilot as the insurance cover was not fully processed at the time of the accident. I consequently wired the sum of $100,000 to the family of late Cpt Vasyl,” he said.
“The leadership of the NAF obtained certificate of death and classified the cause of death as a result of car crash.
“We were later invited by the Ukrainian acting ambassador, Mr Mycolo Salastov to a ceremony to pay last respects to the late Captain Vasyl. The remains were placed in a small box and sealed diplomatically by the acting ambassador.”
He said the two surviving pilots demoralised by the death of their colleague were afterwards withdrawn from combat on the orders of the chief of air staff.
After listening to the testimony, the judge adjourned the case till November 6.
Source – The Cable News