Provide Evidence Civilians Were Killed In Nasarawa Airstrike — NAF

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has again denied allegations that the airstrike on January 24 in Kwateri community, Nasarawa state, struck civilians.

NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Ayodele Famuyiwa, on Thursday, said any organisation or individual with evidence to prove that those killed in the airstrike were not terrorists, should come forward.

Information Nigeria reports that in January 2023, at least 27 persons were killed following the airstrike.

The airstrike, according to Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) occurred after the herders went to get 1,250 of their cows impounded by the Benue livestock guards.

Following the accident, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, said the explosion in Kwateri was not carried out by a NAF aircraft.

He said enquiries revealed that “no air force plane flew through the area”, adding that the bombing was done by a drone whose operators were yet to be identified.

Nearly six months after the incident, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said NAF has taken responsibility for a fatal airstrike on Kwateri.

The human rights organisation said the military’s unacceptable delay in owning up to the killing of dozens of civilians, only compounds the tragedy of the attack.

However, NAF spokesperson’s response to HRW findings, noted that the airforce had locked its surveillance on the bombed location for hours before striking at night.

READ ALSO: NAF Admits It Carried Out Airstrike That Killed 39 Civilians In Nasarawa

Famuyiwa furthered that the air force had gathered intel from reliable sources that the terrorists were planning a massive attack on the community which included plans to kidnap students of a secondary school in the area.

“We are also aware that there is an ongoing operation, that is, Operation Whirl Stroke and the intel came from several sources and even to the commander of that operation for the air component that there was a plan by terrorists within that area to carry out a massive attack.

“And then, there was a secondary school in question that they also planned to kidnap students. To that extent, the air force carried out surveillance and the surveillance confirmed that there were terrorists and that surveillance continued for almost throughout the day until later in the evening when a truck appeared in that scene.

“The truck was suspected to have brought logistics to them and that was why approval was given by the appropriate authority that that truck be taken out and the truck was taken out.

“Now if anyone is coming around to say innocent people were killed, where is the photograph of the truck that brought the cattle that they are talking about?”

“The position of the air force is that terrorists were struck that day and whether it is whatever group and if they think they were innocent people, let them provide the evidence.

“If you think the military is going to give you the evidence of that operation for now, you won’t get it because there is information that cannot be declassified now.

“Let the people who said innocent citizens were killed, provide the evidence and let the press do the analysis and then the truth will come up,” Famuyiwa said.