All seems not to be well in Nigeria if the new revelation on how the Nigerian Airforce coordinated ransom payments, in a desperate deal to terrorists to avoid President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential jet from being shot down, is anything to by.
According to newsmen, the Nigeria Airforce was forced to pay the sum of N20m to terrorists in exchange for an anti-aircraft gun, a military hardware, seized from the Nigerian Army, just before Buhari’s planned trip to his home state of Katsina where terrorists roam freely destroying lives and properties.
The media outlet said the money was delivered to the bandits in Rugu Forest by a Nigerian Air Force official, 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 violent criminals operating in an area the jet would fly over.
“The mission to buy back the antiaircraft gun began with a handoff from a high-ranking air force intelligence officer in Abuja: a black zip-up bag he said was full of 20 million Nigerian naira,”
The gun truck with 12.7 caliber anti-aircraft fire was reportedly disassembled and transported back to the military on motorbikes after the deal was concluded.
The newspaper did not however specify when the deal was brokered or the presidential trip that was planned.
It was not immediately clear why the military opted for ransom payment when they could have easily neutralized the terrorists with air strikes as they have done in time past.
The president has been in his hometown at least twice this year that his office disclosed to the public. The first trip was in late January and another in July.
This revelation makes a mess of the fight against terrorism, more so when the federal government claims combat victories against terrorists despite several military bases being sacked by the blood thirsty criminals dreaded largely for their abduction of schoolchildren and prominent personalities, including politicians and emirs.
Last month, a forward operating base crucial to the military campaign against banditry was raided in Zamfara, leaving at least 12 officers killed. The bandits also seized military equipment when they captured the base in Dansadau, about 80 kilometres south of the capital Gusau, in the September 11 operation.
Less than two weeks later on September 24, bandits again struck a joint base of security forces in the neighbouring Sokoto State, killing several soldiers, Civil Defence officers and civilians.
The Nigerian Air Force also confirmed on July 19 that bandits had shot down one of its fighter jets, but the pilot was able to eject without and there were no casualties. The incident came as Mr Buhari was visiting his hometown for this year’s Sallah.
…The Wall Street Journal…