The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has stated that media reports claiming it paid bandits N20 million naira to retrieve an anti-aircraft weapon are not true.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, on Sunday in Abuja, according to NAN.

The Nigerian Air Force said that the report was designed to cast aspersions on the good image of the service/

What the Nigerian Air Force said

In its statement, NAF denied the allegations and called on Nigerians to treat the reports as fake news as it reaffirms NAF’s unflinching commitment to decisively dealing with the bandits and all other criminal elements in the country.

It said, “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 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.

“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 Air Force stated that the 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.

It also added that NAF is a professional and disciplined force and 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.

“We remain resolute in performing our function and will continue to work in synergy with other sister services and security agencies to rid the country of all criminal elements,” it added.

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Nairametrics reported that a report by the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Nigerian Government paid the sum of N20 million to a bandit leader to secure a 12.7 calibre antiaircraft gun in exchange for the payment as President Buhari prepared to fly to his hometown.