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Anger As Army Bombs Kaduna Villagers

December 5, 2023

Residents claim 80 killed, 50 injured | It was done in error, we were after terrorists, says General Officer Commanding | Governor Sani, Northern elders demand probe.

Residents, civil and religious organisations have expressed shock over the killing of several Kaduna villagers by the Nigerian Army which erroneously bombed in an area in an airstrike where some worshippers gathered to observe an event.

The residents, who spoke with LEADERSHIP yesterday alleged than 80 of their kinsmen were killed in the raid and 50 others severely injured when the Army mistakenly dropped a bomb on a group of religious adherents during a Maulud celebration at Tudun Biri, a community within Igabi local government area of Kaduna State on Sunday night.

Our correspondent, who visited the Emergency Unit of Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital in Kaduna yesterday, observed that over 50 injured wounded victims from the strike were being attended to while those with severe cases were rushed to the theatre for corrective surgeries.

It was also observed that the majority of the injured were children and women.

A credible source from the local government area, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP that no fewer than 83 persons were killed when the bomb was dropped and exploded on the crowd.

He put the figure of those injured at 53.

The incident, which occurred around 9:00pm on Sunday was initially suspected to have been carried out by the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) until a statement from the Service headquarters clarified that there were no such operations by its men in the past 24 hours in Kaduna State and its environs.

It is feared that the death toll could be higher as the Nigerian Army which admitted carrying out the attack in error was silent on the casualty figure last night.

The Kaduna State government, which confirmed the incident, said the Nigerian Army has admitted to mistakenly carrying out the operation, which led to the death of the villagers.

In a statement issued in Kaduna yesterday afternoon after a special security meeting, signed by the overseeing commissioner of internal security and home affairs, Samuel Aruwan, he said the state government received briefings on the Sunday night’s attack, which left several citizens dead and others injured.

Aruwan said at the meeting presided over by the deputy governor, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, which was attended by heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, the Nigerian Army explained the circumstances which led to the unfortunate and unintended attack.

He said, “The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division Nigerian Army, Major General V.U. Okoro, explained that the Nigerian Army was on a routine mission against terrorists but inadvertently affected members of the community.

The deputy governor at the end of the closed-door meeting, conveyed the condolences of the government and people of Kaduna State to the families that lost their loved ones and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls,” he stated.

Heads of security agencies, who attended the meeting included the commissioner of police, M.Y. Garba and director of the Department of State Services (DSS) Abdul Eneche.

The chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Professor Shafi’u Abdullahi, led other religious leaders.

Also present at the meeting was the district head of Rigasa, Alhaji Aminu Idris, whose domain the incident occurred.

In his reaction, Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani has ordered a thorough investigation into the incident, just as the president-general of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) Shettima Yerima condemned the “unwarranted killing of innocent people.”

Governor Sani in a statement issued by his chief press secretary Muhammad Lawal Shehu said he received the shocking news of the unintended loss of lives and injury of some Muslim faithful after a drone operation by the Nigerian Army on Sunday, December 3, 2023 with sadness.

Sani ordered a thorough investigation to forestall future occurrence by immediately convening an emergency security meeting that had in attendance representatives of the Nigerian Army, the commissioner of police, director of the Department of State Services (DSS) and chairman of JNI Kaduna State chapter.

He said, “I have ordered immediate investigation into the tragic incident. We are determined to prevent a repeat of this tragedy and reassure our people that their protection would be prioritised in the sustained fight against terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.

“I have also directed the immediate evacuation of the injured to the Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital for emergency medical attention. The Government will be responsible for their treatment and related logistics,” Governor Sani said.

While appealing for calm in the affected communities, Governor Sani said the “search and rescue operations in the area are ongoing. The state government has dispatched top government officials to the area to assess the situation, reach out to the families of the victims and advise the government on the immediate actions and measures to be taken to lessen the pains of the families of the victims.”

The governor on behalf of the people of Kaduna State extended condolences to the families of the deceased and prayed for the total and speedy recovery of the injured who are receiving treatment  at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital.

“The Kaduna State government regrets the loss of lives and remains committed to ensuring that residents continue to live and conduct their legitimate businesses without fear,” the governor concluded.

In its reaction, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said yesterday that it finds Sunday’s “accidental” bombing by the Army during an operation against bandits in a Kaduna village as a matter of serious concern regarding the safety and well-being of civilians in conflict zones.

The forum in a statement issued by its spokesperson Abdul-Azeez Suleiman demanded a thorough investigation into the incident which occurred at Tudun Biri.

He said, “NEF understands that the Kaduna State government had risen to the occasion and also pledged that the victims of the strike will be compensated. However, beyond compensation for the victims, a thorough investigation is essential to ensure justice for the affected civilians, prevent future occurrences, and uphold the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“By identifying the causes and circumstances surrounding the incident, the investigation can determine whether any negligence or misconduct occurred, holding those responsible accountable.

“This will provide a sense of closure and compensation to the victims, fostering trust between the military and the civilian population. Conducting a thorough investigation into the accidental bombing is essential to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“By analysing the circumstances that led to the tragedy, the investigation can identify any systemic failures, gaps in training, or inadequate protocols that may have contributed to the accident. Armed with this knowledge, the military can implement necessary reforms, such as improved coordination, enhanced intelligence gathering, and stricter adherence to rules of engagement”.

NEF averred that these measures will minimize the risk of accidental bombings and protect civilian lives during military operations. An investigation aligns with the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

These legal frameworks emphasize the protection of civilians during armed conflicts and require states to conduct impartial investigations into alleged violations”.

NEF therefore condoles the families of the affected civilians as well as the Kaduna State government for the unfortunate and regrettable incident.

The AYCF condemned the “mistaken’ bombing of the villagers, stressing that such unintended bombing could have been avoided if intelligence gathering was put to use effectively.

Yerima said, “It is particularly sad that a security agency whose primary responsibility is to protect life and property is now the one killing the people under the guise of’ mistake’, this is not acceptable because it is one mistake too many.

“We are calling on the government to carry out a thorough investigation on this avoidable ‘mistake’ if intelligence gathering is anything to go by. The perpetrators of this so-called mistake must be made to explain beyond reasonable doubt how religious people carrying out their activities could be mistaken for terrorists.

“While we commiserate with the families of those who were killed, we pray to God to give speedy recovery to the injured; enough of this unwarranted killing of innocent people by those who should protect them,” Yerima stated.

Also yesterday, the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said it was saddened by the news of a wrong target bombing by the Nigerian Army.

CAN in a statement issued by its chairman Rev. John Joseph Hayab, commiserated with the Muslim Ummah as many of the affected were said to be celebrating the Maulud, which is an unfortunate incident.

He said, “CAN sends its heart-warm condolences to the families who lost their loved ones, the Tudun Biri community, and the good people of Igabi local government area, the Emir of Zazzau and the government of the state.

“While CAN prays for the repose of the souls of those who died in the incident, she prays for a speedy recovery for those receiving treatment due to the injuries they sustained.”

Hayab said the wrong target bombing is most unfortunate, especially as it came at a time when the security agencies and Nigerians alike were working tirelessly to ensure that the country is free from criminal elements who go about killing, abducting, rustling and destroying the property of innocent citizens.

 We Are Not Involved In Kaduna Airstrikes – NAF

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied carrying out an airstrike that reportedly killed several innocent civilians in Kaduna State.

Its director of public relations and information, Air Cdre Edward Gabkwet, said contrary to reports, the service has not carried out any airstrike in Kaduna in the last 24 hours.

He said, “The news making the rounds alleging that Nigerian Air Force (NAF) aircraft accidentally killed innocent civilians in Kaduna is false.

“Please be informed that the NAF has not carried out any air operations within Kaduna State and environs in the last 24 hours.

“Also, note that the NAF is not the only organisation operating combat armed drones in the North western region of Nigeria.

It is also important to ensure that due diligence is always exhausted by the media before going to press with unverified and unconfirmed reports,” he said.

Source: Leadership Newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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