The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has advocated speedy and thorough investigation of the airstrike by the Nigerian military targeting terrorists in northern Kaduna State, which killed 80 civilians and injured over 60, mostly women and children.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said while sympathising with victims of the strike, he lamented the unfortunate incident, which he described as “a ‘reoccurring intelligence failure’’ that has jeopardized innocent lives.
Citing media reports, he lamented that the military drone was on a routine counterterrorism operation when it mistakenly bombed civilians and residents in Tundun Biri village of Kaduna State, who were celebrating the Muslim festival of Maulud and called for a comprehensive probe of the incident and compensation for victims.
A statement issued by Media and Communication Officer of CAPPA, Robert Egbe said: “We are deeply saddened about the horrendous and needless deaths of innocent Nigerians. Once again, we are confronted with the question of when these deaths will stop. Too frequently, we have seen innocent civilians fall victim to military strikes which authorities are often quick to describe as “accidental”.
“It had been reported that since 2017 over 300 people have been killed in airstrikes carried out by the Nigerian Air Force in pursuit of terrorists. In 2017, the Nigerian Air Force dropped two bombs on an IDP camp in Rann, Borno State, which killed hundreds of citizens. The instances of such actions ‘mistakes’ have soared, but sadly with limited acknowledgement from the Air Force.”
“While the promises from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Taoreed Lagbaja to commence full investigation and the recent monetary donations by the Senate to the victims are steps in the right direction, they are, unfortunately, insufficient.”
Also speaking, Programme Officer of CAPPA, Gideon Adeyeni said: “These responses, while necessary, do not address the root cause of such tragedies which have become a routine with military interventions.
‘‘First, this investigation must extend beyond this singular event to include similar incidents since the inception of counterinsurgency in Northern Nigeria. We demand the constitution of an independent panel with representatives from affected communities and civil society to ensure a broad spectrum of perspectives and objectivity in evaluation. We equally demand that the findings of the investigation be made available to the public.
‘‘Second, we ask that the government actively engages with affected communities to facilitate healing and build lasting peace, both in impacted communities and across the country. Financial aid, necessary as it is, cannot replace the precious lives lost or erase the scars of trauma.”
He pointed out that the Nigerian State must also recognize the irreparable nature of the losses and provide additional interventions such as psychosocial services to bolster the mental health of victims.
‘‘Beyond immediate actions, we urge the Federal Government and military authorities to consider a radical shift in how security operations are conducted in the country, particularly in areas with high civilian populations.
Nigeria, as a signatory to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is bound both by legal and moral obligations to ensure the right to life and the observance of all necessary precautions and intelligence in its military engagements.
“Finally, this tragedy must serve as a catalyst for legislative and institutional reforms to prevent similar incidents. It’s not enough to react post-tragedy; proactive measures are essential to safeguard lives. The Nigerian government must adopt a holistic approach that includes administrative, institutional, and accountability measures,” he added.