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‘We killed innocent civilians in Nasarawa’, Air Chief seeks forgiveness

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‘We killed innocent civilians in Nasarawa’, Air Chief seeks forgiveness

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Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has apologised to the Nasarawa state government and the families of victims of 2023 airstrike.

In an accidental air strike, the force had bombed residents of Rukubi community in Doma, headquarters of Doma Local Government Area of the state, in January 2023.

Speaking during a condolence visit to Governor Abdullahi Sule at Government House, Lafia, the state capital on Friday, Abubakar explained that the airstrike was not deliberate.

He said NAF had received intelligence that some terrorists were sighted on motorcycles in a location around Rukubi community, but in its efforts to confront them with weapons, innocent civilians in the area lost their lives.

His words, “I Air Marshal Abubakar and my team are in the State to sympathize and condole the Government and people of the state over the killing of some herders in Rukubi community of Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, in a military airstrike in January of 2023.

“It is not news that the general area (Rukubi) at that time had been well known for its insecurity occasioned by kidnapping and terrorism. Within the period, you would recall that six primary school pupils were also kidnapped in Doma LGA.

“This, necessitated the surveillance by the Nigerian Air Force within the period of time. Unfortunately, the airstrike killed some civilians at the location. The unfortunate incident of January 2023 was in no way deliberate as no military the world over, will intentionally kill those it is mandated to protect.

“Therefore, our visit to you (Governor Sule) is to solicit your kind intervention in interfacing with the representatives of the victims of the accidental air strike at Rukubi. Our interest in initiating ways and means in reaching out to the victims, their families or their representatives on the need to calm nerves and bring a close to the matter.”

Abubakar, who lamented the prevailing security situation in the state, assured of the Nigerian Air Force determination to end the menace of kidnapping, terrorism, banditry and cattle rustling in Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole.

Responding, Governor Sule appreciated the Nigerian Air Force for owning up to its mistakes and for agreeing to pacify the victims and relatives of the accidental strike.

The governor, who was emotional while speaking on the matter, recalled how an eighty years old man lost his nine children and over 80 cows to the incident.

Sule said, “When the incident happened, I did not know how to handle it. I had to invite the Miyetti Allah leadership to come in and help me calm them.

“One of them who is about 80 years old made me shed tears because he said he had lost his nine children and about 80 cows to the airstrike. They all perished. He looked at me and said, I have nothing anymore here (on earth). I do not have children or cows. What do you want me to do Mr. Governor?, I looked at him and encouraged him to be patient, reminding him that he came to this world alone without any of those things and he will go back to the Almighty Allah one day without any those things. That was how he stopped crying and became calm on the matter.

“So, your coming at this time is perfect and I welcome you to Nasarawa State. We will continue to support you so that at the end of the day, you can continue to provide the services of protecting the lives of the people.”

(Daily Trust)