Friday, August 12, 2022

FACT CHECK: Did aircraft supplying arms to bandits take off from Zamfara forest?

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By Mohammed Dahiru

CLAIM: A video clip circulating online claims that a Hawker Siddley 125 business jet took off from a Zamfara forest with gold. Another version claims that the said aircraft was supplying arms to bandits in the forest.

There is also a false claim that helicopters were sighted dropping arms to the bandits.

While some social media users sought clarification on the matter by posting the clip on their timelines, others drew conclusions that the aircraft supplied arms to bandits and took off with gold from the Zamfara forest.

FACT: A simple online search reveals that the Hawker Siddley 125 business jet landed on a very rough strip in a Guatemalan forest on January 27, 2020 for a drug running deal which was eventually busted by the Guatemalan security forces.

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The aircraft was bravely flown out of the rough strip by a Guatemalan Airforce pilot.

Local news channel, Breaking Balize News (BBN) reported the incident while also quoting sources around the area claiming that, “rесеntlу, thеrе hаѕ bееn аn аlаrmіng іnсrеаѕе іn сlаndеѕtіnе lаndіngѕ оf ѕuѕресtеd drug аіrсrаftѕ іn Guаtеmаlа, Веlіzе аnd Мехісо wіth nо mајоr еffоrt bу аuthоrіtіеѕ tо сrасk dоwn оn knоwn rurаl lаndіng lосаtіоnѕ.”

Furthermore, a reverse image search of the findings revealed by the online search, authenticated the search result and confirmed that it indeed originated from Guatemala.

Geographically, the background shows a typical rainforest of the Guatemalan region, which goes in sharp contrast with a Savannah plain of Zamfara State.

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Additionally, the sky is cloudy, depicting rainy season and the forest appears fresh and blooming, unlike Zamfara where the plants are characterized by coarse grasses and scattered tree growth.

Sources at the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, told DAILY NIGERIAN that it is impossible for an aircraft to land in Zamfara forest without detection.

“With the presence of Secondary Surveillance Radar (PSR) in Kano, Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt it will be difficult for aircraft to operate in most parts of the nation undetected.

“Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) works by sending interrogation signals which are replied by aircraft transponders to give the presence of aircraft and its position.

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“Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) sends signals that bounces back to the radar system when they hit an aircraft. The radar system picks the presence of aircraft and calculates its position,” the source said.

The source also said there are both attack and reconnaissance helicopters stationed in Katsina as well as jets in stationed Sokoto that patrol the general area on daily basis.

“It is impossible for any aircraft to land and take off in that area without detection,” he said.

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