The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called for a full investigation of the military drone attack on Tudun Biri community of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State and full compensation for the victims.
This is contained in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prof. Tukur Muhammad-Baba on Tuesday in Kaduna.
He said, “ACF was shocked to learn of the horrific armed drone attack on a group of people on a Maulud procession at Tudun Biri community, Afaka Ward, near Rigasa, in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in the evening of Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.
“The Nigerian Army has since admitted responsibility for the attack, dubbed “inadvertent” by General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. VU Okoro, said to have occurred when troops were on a routine military mission.
“While the Army authorities remain mute about casualty figures, even if tentative, from what can be discerned from various reports, as many as 80 and possibly more/ people, mostly children and women, were killed with scores injured.”
He said that ACF was perplexed and deeply disturbed that such an operation could be contemplated and executed in this densely populated area.
Muhammad-Baba added, “It is indeed trite to say that sound intelligence is the fulcrum of military operations. There is a need to be more forthcoming on the details, even if to douse the feeling in many quarters that there was an initial attempt to downplay the incident except for the vigilance of some members of the public.”
He added ACF deeply mourns and condoles all the families of the dead and pray that that God Almighty grants the dead peace.
According to Muhammad-Baba, ACF also prays for the quick and full recovery of those injured adding that such incidents of accidental have happened in other communities in the past, with tragic consequences on civilians.
“Efforts must thus be put in place to avert such avoidable loss of lives and property. Communities in the northern states have enough problems with banditry to have to again worry about becoming hapless victims of the strategies of those who should be helping to totally wipe out the scourge of banditry and terrorism,” he said.
The scribe said that ACF has commended the Kaduna State Government for its quick response to the situation and coming to the aid of the injured.
” A full, thorough honest and open investigation of the incident, to establish what exactly happened, who was involved and how, the number of lives lost and injured;
“Any and all those found guilty of professional or operational incompetence must be severely disciplined, and transparently so,” he added.
According to ACF, the investigation must be undertaken with the full participation of the people of the affected community who must not be intimidated into keeping quiet on the gory details of their losses.
Muhammad-Baba said, “Kaduna State Government has a duty to act to protect the interest of the victims and not the Nigerian Army personnel that perpetrated the incident.
“While full compensation must be paid for the dead in accordance with current Islamic diya value for individual lives. The injured must not only be fully treated free of charge but must also be rehabilitated on full recovery, as well as fully compensated for losses of livelihoods and incomes while on the road to full recovery.
“To restore the confidence of the people, the Nigerian Army must apologise to the people of the communities affected by the incident. Additionally, as a sign of good faith, the Nigerian Army should immediately undertake medical and other community rehabilitation outreach in the affected communities.”
He said that the Chief of Defence Staff should order all the elements of the military to evolve a sound strategy to avoid the experience of mishaps such as had occurred at Tudun Biri.
According to Muhammad-Baba the tragedy ought not to and should never have happened.
He added, “No community, anywhere in the country, should ever have to suffer such horrific and tragic incidents.”