- The Nigerian Air Force has denied paying bandits N20 million to recover an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized by the criminals in Katsina
- A report by a foreign media had made the allegation, claiming that the payment was made to prevent a threat to President Buhari's plane
- However, the NAF described the report as false and urged the media to always verify their facts before going public
FCT, Abuja - The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied a report claiming that it paid N20 million to armed bandits operating in the Jibia local government area of Katsina state in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized by them.
In a statement made available to Legit.ng, the NAF also dismissed the claim made in the report that the reason behind the payment was to retrieve the anti-aircraft gun which it was feared could be used against aircraft operating within Katsina state.
Reacting to the report, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet. NAF's spokesman, said "there is absolutely no iota of truth in the spurious allegation."
The NAF spokesman further said that the allegation "was undoubtedly designed to cast aspersions on the good image of the service."
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The statement reads in part:
"The said report is totally false. It should therefore be taken as fake news and disregarded. Indeed, we ordinarily would not have responded to such baseless and utterly illogical allegation but for the need to set the record straight as well as reaffirm the NAF’s unflinching commitment to decisively dealing with the armed bandits and all other criminal elements in the Country in partnership with other services of the Armed Forces and other security agencies."
No basis to pay bandits
The NAF further said there is no basis for it to pay bandits or any criminal elements that it has continued to attack and decimate in Katsina state and other parts of the north.
Gabkwet said as recently as Tuesday, October 12, the NAF aircraft conducted five missions in the Jibia general area and engaged targets with rockets and cannons at Bala Wuta bandits’ locations in Kadaoji.
The NAF spokesman added that similar successes were recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area in Jibia LGA known for its high incidences of bandits’ activities.
He noted that the "false reportage therefore, begs the question as to why the NAF would negotiate for a weapon allegedly seized and still carry out air interdiction missions on the same bandits and their strongholds."
The statement further said:
"The NAF is of the view that, this latest false report could be a part of a campaign to further the cause of insecurity in Nigeria by elements who see the NAF as a threat following series of successful exploits in operations against criminal gangs."
Appeal to media
The NAF appealed to members of the media, both local and international, as well as social media, to be circumspect in their reportage and endeavour to always verify their facts before going public.
It also enjoined the public to "disregard the falsehood emanating from some sections of the social and mainstream media."
Nigerians were also urged to continue to cooperate with security agencies as efforts are ongoing to rid the entire nation of criminals and their activities.
The report the NAF was reacting to was published by Wall Street Journal, a newspaper based in the United States. It claimed that the bandits encamped in Rugu forest had seized the antiaircraft gun in a clash with soldiers.
The report further claimed that NAF brokered the deal as President Muhammadu Buhari was planning a trip to Katsina, his home state.
Nigerian Air Force takes important action after multiple plane crashes
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Isiaka Amao, constituted a committee of serving and retired senior officers to conduct a safety audit of all NAF operational and engineering units.
Among other terms of reference, the committee was asked to analyse safety reports from operational and engineering units, conduct safety evaluations of NAF units and recommend measures to enhance the safety of operations in the units.
Legit.ng gathered that the committee was also tasked to interact with unit operational and technical personnel for views, observations, and contributions on safety measures.