Nigerian Air Force Paid Bandits N20 Million from not letting Buhari’s plane down

How the Nigerian Air Force paid N20 million to bandits to keep Buhari’s plane from being shot down.

The Wall Street Journal, a newspaper based in the United States of America, has revealed how the Nigerian Air Force coordinated ransom payments to armed bandits in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun seized from the Nigerian Army in a desperate deal struck as President Muhammadu Buhari prepared to travel to Katsina.

According to the report, a Nigerian Air Force official who spoke on the condition of anonymity delivered N20 million to the bandits in Rugu Forest because the military realized it would be too risky to leave the weapon in the hands of violent criminals operating in an area where the presidential jet would fly over.

Bandits have used the rough, lawless jungle that surrounds portions of Kaduna, Zamfara, and the president’s home state of Katsina to terrorize Nigeria’s northwestern regions. Security services have previously warned that a major share of abduction plans originate or end in or around the forest.

“The mission to buy back the antiaircraft 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.”

Last month, in Zamfara, a forward operating base critical to the military’s anti-banditry campaign was raided, killing at least 12 officers. When the bandits took over the facility in Dansadau, around 80 kilometers south of the capital Gusau, on September 11, they also took military equipment.

On September 24, less than two weeks later, bandits attacked a joint security base in neighboring Sokoto State, murdering many troops, Civil Defense officers, and civilians.

On July 19, the Nigerian Air Force stated that bandits had shot down one of its fighter jets, but the pilot was able to eject safely and no one was injured. Mr Buhari was visiting his hometown for this year’s Sallah when the tragedy occurred.

It was unclear why, in the operation recounted by The Journal, service chiefs chose ransom money. Air attacks were usually used to eliminate military weapons that fell into the hands of Boko Haram terrorists and robbers.

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Chukwu Ebuka
Chukwu Ebuka is a news editor, and Certified Blogger, Ecocitytvnews.