The Nigerian Air Force has denied paying ₦20 million to insurgents in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun taken from its personnel.
It stated that the viral report is false and intended to harm the Service’s reputation.
According to Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, Director of Public Relations and Information for the Nigerian Air Force, there was no reason for the NAF to pay money to bandits or criminal elements in the north or anywhere else in the country.
He said that the “false report” could be part of a campaign to exacerbate the country’s insecurity.
“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to news reports circulating on some media platforms alleging that the NAF, through one of its personnel, paid armed bandits operating in Jibia Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina State N20 million in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized,” the statement reads.
“The reason for the payment, according to the report, was to retrieve the anti-aircraft gun, which the NAF feared could be used against aircraft operating within Katsina State,” it continued.
“The NAF wishes to state categorically that there is not a shred of truth in the baseless allegation, which was intended to smear the Service’s good name. The above-mentioned report is completely false. As a result, it should be treated as fake news and ignored.
“We would not have responded to such a baseless and utterly illogical allegation if it had not been for the need to clear the air and reaffirm the NAF’s unwavering commitment to decisively dealing with armed bandits and all other criminal elements *in the country in partnership with other Armed Forces services and other Security Agencies.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, it must be stated that the NAF has no legal basis to pay bandits or any other criminal elements that it has continued to attack and decimate in Katsina State, other parts of the *North-West, and other Theaters of Operation in the country.”
“On October 12, 2021, NAF aircraft flew five missions in the Jibia general area, firing rockets and cannons at Bala Wuta bandit hideouts in Kadaoji. Similar successes were recorded in Jibia LGA’s Fakai Dutsin Anfare, which is known for its high incidences of banditry. As a result of the false reporting, it’s unclear why the NAF would negotiate for a weapon that was allegedly seized while still conducting air interdiction missions against the same bandits and their strongholds.
“The NAF believes that this latest false report is part of a campaign by elements who see the NAF as a threat after a series of successful operations against criminal gangs to further the cause of insecurity in Nigeria.”
“Perhaps this provides an opportunity for the NAF to appeal to members of the media, both local and international, as well as social media, to be cautious in their reporting and to always verify facts before going public.”
“The general public is urged to ignore the lies spread by some sections of the social and mainstream media. The NAF also takes advantage of this opportunity to urge citizens to continue cooperating with security agencies as efforts to rid the country of criminals and their activities continue.
“The NAF, as a professional and disciplined force, will not be deterred from fulfilling its mandate to rid the entire North-West Nigeria region of banditry and other forms of criminality. We are steadfast in our mission and will continue to collaborate with other sister services and security agencies to rid the country of all criminal elements.”