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We did not pay bandits in exchange for weapons, says Air Force

By Odita Sunday, Head Defence/Security Affairs
18 October 2021   |   4:01 am
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied paying bandits in exchange for weapons.

[FILES] Nigerian Air Force PHOTO: Twitter

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied paying bandits in exchange for weapons.

Air Force spokesman, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, made the disclosure in a statement yesterday.

He said: “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 N20million to armed bandits operating in Jibia Council of Katsina State in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun allegedly seized.

“The report went on to state 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 Katsina State.

“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.”

The statement added: “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.

“Indeed, as recent as October 12, 2021, NAF aircraft conducted five missions in the Jibia general area and engaged targets with rockets and cannons at Bala Wuta bandits’ locations in Kadaoji. Similar successes were recorded at Fakai Dutsin Anfare, an area in Jibia LGA 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 the NAF as a threat following series of successful exploits in operations against criminal gangs.”