No payment made to bandits in exchange for anti-aircraft weapon ― Nigerian Air Force

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Sunday debunked the reports making the rounds on some media platforms alleging that it paid the sum of N20 million through one of its personnel to armed bandits operating in Jibia Local Government Area of  Katsina State in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized by the bandits, describing it as false and mischievous targeted to weaken the gallant troops fighting insurgency in the troubled zone.

This was contained in a statement made available to Defence correspondents in Abuja by the  NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet.

The report had alleged that the payment was reportedly made by the NAF High Command to retrieve the anti-aircraft weapon for the fear of being used against aircraft operating within the Katsina State axis. 

While insisting that the report was totally false, the NAF spokesperson declared that there was absolutely no iota of truth in the allegation that was undoubtedly designed to cast aspersion on the good image of the troops and the service.

According to the statement, “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.”

He pointed out that “for the avoidance of doubt, it must be stated that there is no basis for the Nigerian Air Force 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.”

He explained that on October 12, 2021, 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.

He added that similar successes were recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area in Jibia Local Government Area of the State known for its high incidences of bandits’ activities.

According to the statement, “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 NAF is of the view of 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 again 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 and well enjoined the members of the public to disregard the falsehood emanating from some sections of the social and mainstream media.

It also called on citizens to continue to cooperate with security agencies as efforts were ongoing to rid the entire Nation of criminals and their activities and that the NAF, as a professional and disciplined force, would not in any way be discouraged from carrying out its mandate to rid the entire North-West Nigeria of banditry and other forms of criminality.

 

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