The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Sunday, October 17, denied a report by the Wall Street Journal that it paid N20m as ransom to bandits in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun seized from the Nigerian Army.
1st News had reported that the Wall Street Journal said in a report on Sunday that the NAF brokered the deal as President Muhammadu Buhari was planning a trip to Katsina, his home state.
The US media outlet said N20 million was delivered to the bandits in Rugu Forest by a NAFofficer, who leaked details of the operation under anonymity because the military realised that it would be too risky to leave the weapon in the hands of violent criminals operating in an area the presidential jet would fly over.
But the Nigerian Air Force denied making such payment to bandits in exchange for weapons.
In a statement on Sunday by the spokesperson, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet, said there was no truth in the report.
The statement was titled, “NAF DID NOT MAKE ANY PAYMENT TO BANDITS IN EXCHANGE FOR WEAPONS.”
It read, “The attention of the Nigerian Air Force has been drawn to news reports circulating on some media platforms alleging that the NAF, through one of its personnel, paid the sum of N20 Million to armed bandits operating in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized.
“The NAF wishes to categorically state that there is absolutely no iota of truth in the spurious allegation that was undoubtedly designed to cast aspersions on the good image of the Service.
“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.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it must be stated that there is no basis for the NAF; to pay bandits or any criminal elements that it has continued to attack and decimate in Katsina State; other parts of the North-West; as well as other Theatres of Operation in the Country.
“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.
“The NAF also uses this opportunity to call on citizens to continue to cooperate with security agencies; as efforts are ongoing to rid the entire Nation of criminals and their activities.