- Demand For Independent Probe
Human rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Tuesday, raised concern that the accidental and sporadic bombardments of civilians by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) during its aerial operations on terrorists’ hideouts may result in war crime.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, demanded a probe of airstrikes by the Air Force on civilian settlements, which have allegedly killed and injured countless persons.
On September 9, 2022, the Nigerian military authority announced that the Air Force (NAF) under the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai carried out an airstrike on a target known as Somalia in Sambisa Forest “suspected to be a terrorist hospital and health care facility.”
“These apparent excesses of the Nigerian Air Force and sister military agencies must not be swept under the carpet. There are many other undocumented cases like the ones stated above where NAF airstrikes against terrorists killed innocent civilians, but these cases did not make it to the media”.
“The recent bombing of a so-called terrorist health center in Sambisa forest in Borno State may have added to the growing list of the military’s excesses, especially if it emerges that civilian hostages kept by the terrorists were affected”. Onwubike said
“The Geneva Conventions frowns upon the extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly which is what we hope the Air Force has not committed in the Sambisa Forest because some of those in that Health Center were certainly civilians and innocent captives as captured in the trending news stories”.
HURIWA statement is coming against the backdrop of concern about the growing incident of the bombing of civilian targets by the Nigerian Airforce.
On January 17, 2017, a NAF jet mistook a displaced persons’ camp in Rann, Kala Balge LGA of Borno State, killing about 53 civilians, including six Red Cross workers, and injuring over a hundred persons.
In September 2021, Buwari Village in Yunusari LGA, Yobe state was also ‘mistakenly’ bombed by the NAF in an incident where nine civilians were killed and dozens injured.
In mid-April 2022, NAF Jet fighters bombed the Kurebe community in the Shiroro area of Niger State killing many civilians including children
On July 6, 2022, a NAF fighter jet “mistakenly” bombed civilians in Kakuna village of Katsina State, killing at least one person and injuring dozens of others.
The unfortunate incident is the latest in a series of costly mistakes by the NAF that have resulted in avoidable losses of lives of innocent Nigerians and property in the last few years, according to HURIWA.