From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied allegations that its personnel were involved in a purported coup plot to overthrow the democratically-elected government in the country.
NAF said it considered the allegation ridiculous and wondered how anyone “in his/her right senses, especially in the 21st Century could still be fixated on the possibility of effecting a change in government in Nigeria in any way other than through the ballot box.”
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, who made this known in Abuja, yesterday, described the air force as “a highly professional and apolitical service that is focused on ensuring the protection of the nation’s territorial integrity and facilitating a safe and secure environment for Nigerians to prosper while conducting their legitimate businesses.”
Adesanya, in a statement said the clarification was necessary to disabuse the minds of Nigerians and foreigners alike, that the NAF had anything to do with coup rumors.
“It would be recalled that the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar had, on May 18, 2017, while commissioning new residential accommodation for personnel at NAF Base, Bill Clinton Drive, Abuja, emphatically pledged the loyalty of the NAF to the President and Commander-in-Chief, as well as to the Nigerian Constitution.
“It is imperative to state that the earlier stance of the NAF on the unfortunate coup rumours has not changed.
“The strong belief of the NAF in democratic values was also demonstrated during the recent Gambian crisis.
“The NAF was the first and only air force that ensured the will of Gambians was not subverted by promptly deploying its fighter aircraft, in addition to its transport aircraft, to airlift needed troops and logistics, in readiness to preserve the country’s democracy, in line with the Federal Government’s directives.
“It is, therefore, inconceivable that the same NAF would be involved in any way in any attempt to dismantle the political structure in Nigeria.
“It appears some individuals with unknown intentions are bent on further spreading the malicious misinformation and hence, the need for the NAF to react.
“The chief of the air staff would like to assure Nigerians as a whole of the unalloyed loyalty of all NAF personnel to the president and Commander-in-Chief as well as to the Government of Nigeria, as democratically constituted.
“We, therefore, appeal to those peddling these false stories to cease, as they are constituting a source of distraction to NAF personnel, who are sacrificing on a daily basis to ensure the security of Nigeria.”
Last month, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai warned officers to steer clear of politics or be shown the way out of service.
The warning compelled the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) to quickly set up an ‘administrative machinery’ the investigate attempts by politicians to infiltrate the military and influence some top military officials to take over the reins of power.