Air strikes: Nigerian Air Force accuses Amnesty International of bias
A report by Amnesty International where it accused the Nigerian Air force (NAF) of killing dozens of villagers in airstrikes on villages troubled by herdsmen invasion has been faulted by the military authorities.
In a statement issued by its spokesman Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, NAF accused the international body of being one-sided and apparently aiming to embarrass the NAF.
“To set the records straight, in the early hours of Dec. 4, 2017, a NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform departed Maiduguri to conduct ISR over Numan general area. This was in response to a request by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, following reports of clashes around that location.
“Hundreds of people, mostly dressed in black attires, and who appeared armed, were sighted ransacking and setting a village on fire. In addition, the hoodlums set large portions of farmlands ablaze. Furthermore, some of the men were seen guiding livestock out of the village.
“Consequently, a NAF aircraft was called in to support the Nigerian Army and other relevant security agencies through ‘show of force’ low-level flights.
“Rather, the assailants started firing shots at the aircraft and continued with their dastardly act of burning houses within the settlement.
“Indeed, at the time the NAF intervened in the crisis around Numan on Dec. 4, 2017, there were no two distinguishable groups clashing.
“Rather, only one group of hoodlums was seen unleashing mayhem on villages near Numan.
“At no time did the NAF Spokesman identify the hoodlums as herdsmen, as the pilots could not have possibly determined the identities of the hoodlums from thousands of feet in the air.
“It is significant to note that without the timely intervention of the NAF, nothing would have stopped the huge mass of hoodlums from burning down Numan, where they were obviously heading.
“Had they succeeded, they would have killed several individuals and burnt or destroyed more properties.
“It is better imagined how many more lives would have been lost without the timely and wise intervention of the NAF.
“It is the responsibility of the NAF to defend Nigerian lives and the NAF could not have simply watched while lives were being taken and properties destroyed.
“ It is regrettable that Amnesty International never made any attempt to find out NAF’s account of the events of the said date before making its allegations,’ the statement read.