By: Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja.
Nigerian Air Force officials debunked allegations on Sunday that the NAF paid $ 20 million to bandits operating in Jibia, Katsina state, in an attempt to recover a cannon antiaircraft bandits to prevent its use to shoot down fighter jets.
A statement by Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF’s director of public relations and information, titled “NAF made no payments to bandits in exchange for weapons” made it known.
He said: âThe attention of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has been drawn to information circulating on certain media platforms alleging that the NAF, through one of its members, paid the sum of 20 million naira to armed bandits operating in the local government of Jibia. Zone (LGA) of Katsina State in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun that was allegedly seized.
âThe report went on to say that the reason for the payment was to recover the anti-aircraft gun which it said the NAF feared could be used against planes operating in Katsina state.
âThe NAF wishes to categorically state that there is absolutely no iota of truth in the spurious allegation which has undoubtedly been designed to disparage the good image of the Service.
âSaid report is totally false. It should therefore be seen as fake news and ignored.
“Indeed, we would not normally have responded to such an unfounded and utterly illogical allegation without the need to set the record straight and reaffirm the NAF’s unwavering commitment to deal decisively with 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 said that there is no basis for the NAF to pay bandits or criminal elements that it has continued to attack and decimate in Katsina state, other parties Northwest as well as other operating theaters in the country.
âIndeed, as recently as October 12, 2021, NAF planes conducted 5 missions in the general area of ââJibia and engaged targets with rockets and cannons at the locations of the Bala Wuta bandits in Kadaoji.
âSimilar successes have been recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area of ââJibia LGA known for its high incidence of bandit activity.
âThe false report therefore raises the question of why the NAF would negotiate an allegedly seized weapon and continue to conduct air interdiction missions on the same bandits and their strongholds.
“The NAF believes this latest false report could be part of a campaign to promote the cause of insecurity in Nigeria by elements who see the NAF as a threat following a series of exploits successful in operations against criminal gangs.
âMaybe this gives the NAF a way to once again call on members of the media, both local and international, as well as social media, to be cautious in their reporting and to strive to always verify their facts. before making them public.
âThe public is urged to disregard the lie emanating from certain sections of social and mainstream media. The NAF also takes this opportunity to call on citizens to continue to cooperate with security agencies as efforts are underway to rid the entire nation of criminals and their activities.
âFrom our side, the NAF, as a professional and disciplined force, will in no way be deterred from fulfilling its mandate of ridding all of Northwestern Nigeria of banditry and other forms of crime.
“We remain committed to fulfilling our function and will continue to work in synergy with other sister services and security agencies to rid the country of all criminal elements.”
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