Saudi Arabian authorities have refused to grant over-flight permits to Nigerian cargo planes carrying military equipment including armored tanks from Pakistan which Nigerian authorities have procured in order to fight the Boko Haram rebel group, media reports said.
Earlier this year, Pakistan pledged to support Nigeria in its fight against the Boko Haram, “This Day” daily reported on Monday.
The newspaper added that it had been informed by the country’s intelligence sources that the decision by the Saudi authorities was certain to cause a diplomatic row at a time when President Goodluck Jonathan was eager to end the insurgency in the country’s Northeast before the 2015 general election due to be held in February.
President Jonathan, the newspaper said, has “given the green light to the military authorities to procure arms from alternative sources such as Pakistan and Russia”.
“We got permission to fly through Sudan and other countries but the Pakistani planes have been blocked by Saudi Arabia, which has impeded the urgency of the operation,” the newspaper claimed it had been told by intelligence sources in the country, adding that, “Owing to Saudi Arabia’s refusal, the only alternative is for Nigeria to ship the armament by sea, but using this as an option would take much longer.”
Unfortunately, intelligence sources told the paper, “If we resort to shipping the arms via the high seas, they would reach us well after the election which may be too late for the desired impact, especially now that we have the insurgents on the run.”