The Nigerian Air Force Sunday dismissed a report by the Wall Street Journal that it paid N20m ransom to bandits operating in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized from the Nigerian Army.
The American media organization, which had earlier yesterday reported that the NAF brokered the deal ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s planned trip to Katsina, said the ransom was delivered to the bandits at Rugu Forest by a naval officer.
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But in a statement, NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, described the report as false and mischievous, saying it was designed to cast aspersion on the good image of the troops and the service.
He said there was no basis for the NAF to pay bandits or any criminal elements that it had continued to attack and decimate in Katsina State, other parts of the North-West and other theatres of operation in the country.
He said 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.
Gabkwet said similar successes were recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina.
“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,” he added.
He asked 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.