Over 80 people are dead as the army acknowledges its 10th unintentional bombardment in two years

The Nigerian military has been involved in misdirected airstrikes once more, with over eighty lives lost in the most recent incident in Kaduna State.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has denied the incident since Sunday night. However, the Kaduna State government revealed yesterday that the bombing that destroyed Tudun Biri, a community in the Igabi Local Government Area of the state, was the result of a Nigerian Army drone mistaking villagers for terrorists.

Nevertheless, a reliable source from the local government area, who requested anonymity, confirmed that the bombing that occurred at approximately 9:00 p.m. killed 83 people, including 53 injured individuals, as some villagers gathered in the village to celebrate Maulud (the birth of the Prophet Muhammad).

According to a report from our correspondent who visited the Emergency Department of Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital in Kaduna on Monday, the facility was treating more than fifty injured patients, with critical cases requiring transportation to the operating room for corrective operations. The injured comprised the majority of infants and women. Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, the deputy governor, presided over a meeting at which religious and traditional leaders and chiefs of security agencies were in attendance. During the meeting, the Nigerian Army explained the regrettable and unintended assault.

Major V.U. Okoro, a general officer commanding one division of the Nigerian Army, stated that the army was conducting a routine mission against terrorists when it regrettably afflicted members of the community.

Balarabe extended condolences on behalf of the Kaduna government and people to the bereaved families, prayed for the victims’ spirits, and expressed that the victims would receive compensation after the meeting.

Officials evacuated scores of injured victims to Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital yesterday, according to Samuel Aruwan, Overseeing Commissioner of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, where search and rescue operations were still ongoing.

Others in attendance were religious leaders, led to the meeting by the chairman of the Kaduna chapter of Jam’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Prof. Shafi’u Abdullahi, in addition to the Commissioner of Police, M.Y. Garba, and the Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Abdul Eneche, both of whom represented security agencies. Alhaji Aminu Idris, the district head of Rigasa, was also in attendance; the incident transpired within his jurisdiction.

Senator Uba Sani, the state’s governor, has issued an order for an investigation into the military drone attack, just as the government instructed a state-owned hospital to provide free medical care to all survivors.

The governor issued the following directive in a statement through his chief press secretary, Mohammed Lawal Shehu: “To prevent future incidents, he ordered an immediate emergency security meeting and a comprehensive investigation.”

The NAF issued a statement denying any involvement in the incident, stating that they had not conducted any air operations within Kaduna during the attack’s period, contrary to earlier reports that had attributed responsibility to the force.

The incident that occurred on Sunday brought the total number of misguided missiles that were intended for bandits and terrorists but inadvertently struck the incorrect targets, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Nigerians.

Prior estimates from the media indicated that miscalculated airstrikes occurred on at least nine occasions between September 2021 and January 2023. The states in which the incidents have transpired include Zamfara, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, and Nasarawa (Niger).

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has demanded an immediate, transparent, and comprehensive investigation into the Sunday night bombardments that claimed the lives of villagers, characterizing the incident as one too many.

Additionally, HURIWA tasked the military with implementing preventative measures against such a dreadful operational error and requested that the government identify the victims and their immediate families to ensure adequate compensation.

AYCF, or the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, condemned the bombing as well. Shettima Yerima, the president of AYCF, expressed her profound sadness over the fact that a security organization whose principal duty is to safeguard lives and property is presently exterminating individuals under the pretext of an “error.”

In the interim, parents of abducted students from the Federal University of Gusau in Zamfara State have demanded the unconditional release of their children at the Government House through a peaceful demonstration. They demand that Governor Dauda Lawal and security agencies liberate their children, who have been held captive without incident for the past 72 days.

On September 22, this year, a total of twenty-four university students, ten construction workers, a university staff member, and his daughter were abducted from Sabon-Gida. This community accommodates the university’s primary campus. Nevertheless, despite the efforts of three construction workers and thirteen students to escape, others remain captive.

Protesters swore to remain at the government residence in Zamfara State until the release of their children. According to them, the abductors had communicated with a subset of them, and their sole demand was to engage in negotiations with the government.