France has admitted ownership of the cargo plane that was impounded by military authorities at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, last Saturday.
It said that the flight was covered by a diplomatic clearance given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, noting that the Autonov 124 Russian commercial plane was forced to land at the Kano airport because of dense air traffic at Ndjamena airport, Chad.
A statement from the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, on Sunday, stated that the Antonov plane had to divert to an alternate international airport and the closest airport facility being Kano, the Russian crew decided to fly there, to refuel, and to take off again to reach Njamena Airport.
He 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.
Labriolle further explained 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.
He 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.