NAF denies paying N20m to bandits
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied a report that it paid N20 million to bandits not to shoot down President Muhammadu Buhari’s aircraft with an anti-aircraft gun seized from the Army.
It said there was no truth in the report as it never made such payment in exchange for weapons of any kind.
Besides, it said there was no basis for it 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 across the Country.
NAF Director Public Relations and information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, made this known in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal, in a repor, had claimed that the NAF brokered the deal as President Buhari was planning a trip to Katsina, his home state.
The US media outlet said N20 million was delivered to the bandits in Rugu Forest by a NAF officer, who leaked details of the operation under anonymity, because the military realised that it would be too risky to leave the weapon in the hands of criminals operating in an area the presidential jet would fly over.
“The mission to buy back the anti-aircraft gun began with a handoff from a high-ranking air force intelligence officer in the capital Abuja: a black zip-up bag he said was full of 20 million Nigerian naira,” the paper reported, after stating that such military hardware in the hands of bandits “posed a threat to President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been planning to fly to his hometown about 80 miles away,” the WSJ wrote
But NAF spokesman “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.