From Harua Tula, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied paying the sum of N20 million to bandits who operate in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State in exchange for a captured anti-aircraft gun.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Abuja, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, made the denial in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
The Wall Street Journal, had reported that, the reason behind the payment was to retrieve the anti-aircraft gun which it alleged the NAF feared could be used against aircraft operating within the state.
According to NAF spokesman “,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 a 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 and reaffirm the NAF’s unflinching commitment to decisively dealing with the bandits and all other criminal elements.
“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, as well as other parts of the North-West and other theatres of operation in the country.
“Indeed, as recent as Oct. 12, 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 continued ;
“Similar successes were recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area in Jibia known for its high incidences of bandits activities.
“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 that this latest false report could be a part of a campaign to further the cause of insecurity in Nigeria by elements who see NAF as a threat following a series of successful exploits in operations against criminal gangs.”
He, however, noted that the development was an avenue once again for NAF to appeal to members of the media, both national and international, and social media, to be circumspect in their reportage, as well as endeavour to always verify their facts before going public.
The Director,, enjoined the public to disregard the falsehood emanating from some sections of the social and mainstream media.
He added that NAF also used the opportunity to call on citizens to continue to cooperate with security agencies as efforts were ongoing to rid the entire country of criminals and their activities.
“On our part, NAF as a professional and disciplined force will not in any way be discouraged from carrying out its mandate to rid the entire North-West of banditry and other forms of criminality.