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France Admits Ownership Of Seized Russian Plane, Says It’s Covered By Diplomatic Clearance

Detained at Mallam Aminu Kano Airport.

The France government on Sunday admitted ownership of the cargo plane that was impounded by military authorities at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano over the weekend, even as it said the aircraft has been given clearance to leave.

In a statement by the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, on Sunday, France said the Antonov 124 Russian commercial plane was diverted to Kano due to dense air-traffic at Ndjamena airport destination in Chad.

The statement explained that Kano is the closest airport facility, adding that the Russian crew also decided to refuel, and to take off again to reach Njamena Airport.

It said that the flight was covered by a diplomatic clearance given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.

The statement denied that the plane was carrying arms and ammunition, stressing that it was conveying two light Gazelle helicopters, spare parts and maintenance items belonging to the French Army.

It further stated that due to the nationality of the aircraft, and the nature of the cargo, airport authorities in Kano, decided to check the flight plan, the clearance and the cargo manifest before authorizing the plane to leave.

The Ambassador said that official information has been supplied by the French Embassy in Nigeria, noting that the federal and airport authorities, being satisfied with the documents and the genuine character of the flight, have announced that the plane will be authorized to pursue its flight to Ndjamena.

The envoy stated that the French Armed Forces had on December 6, 2014, chartered the flight on the Russian commercial company “224 Flight Unit,” to ship two light helicopters from Bangui to Ndjamena.


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