Nigeria has released an Equatorial Guinea-bound Ukrainian cargo plane it detained in June after security officers found it was carrying weapons and ammunition, a Nigerian official and military sources said.
The aircraft had stopped at Nigeria’s Kano airport on June 17 to refuel when the arms were discovered during a routine search. The plane, its crew and cargo were intercepted and the authorities ordered an investigation.
The seven crew members were questioned in the capital Abuja and released on Tuesday after it was found the cargo was not meant for Nigeria, military sources said.
The plane took off for Equatorial Guinea with its cargo.
“We were asked by Abuja to release the aircraft and that we have done. They left here yesterday,” a top official at Kano airport told Reuters, asking not to be named.
Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported in June the AN-12 cargo plane, belonging to a Ukrainian company Meridian, had been flying from Zagreb to Equatorial Guinea.
A diplomat in Nigeria’s capital Abuja had said in June the shipment appeared to be arms ordered by the government of Equatorial Guinea, Africa’s third-biggest oil producer and a former Spanish colony.
Equatorial Guinea, which has attracted US oil companies, has suffered decades of instability. Gunmen in motor boats attacked its capital Malabo on Feb. 17 before being repelled by the military.