NAF Denies Bombing Civilians In Zamfara, Promises Investigation
By Iwedi Ojinmah 6 days ago
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) had denied using bombs in any of the air strikes it carried out in Zamfara and its environs. NAF’s denial followed Zamfara State Council of Chiefs’ naming of 11 civilians as those killed by air strikes.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday during a press briefing in reaction to Zamfara State Council of Chiefs’ allegations, the director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, however, noted that the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had constituted a panel to investigate the allegation.
“In the light of the allegation by the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has ordered a high-powered panel of inquiry to investigate the veracity or otherwise of the claim.
“The panel, which will be headed by an Air Vice Marshal, will work with the Zamfara State government as well as the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs and other stakeholders,” he said Daramola noted that the panel would start its investigation from Katsina, the headquarters of ‘Operation Diran Mikiya’, before proceeding to Gusau and other relevant locations in Zamfara State to properly scrutinize all evidence presented by the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs.
Though he did not provide the specified time limit for the panel to submit its report, the director said that at the end of the investigation, members of the public would be duly informed of the findings. He further recalled that ‘Operation Diran Mikiya’ was launched on 30 July 2018 with the mandate to flush out armed bandits terrorising Zamfara State and its environs.
Consequently, he said, “Since the commencement of the Operation, the NAF has conducted a total of 827 missions, in 1,027 sorties, flying about 1,500 hours and consuming about 630,000 litres of aviation fuel in order to ensure the security of lives and property of the people of Zamfara State and other affected states in the North West Related: FGN Vows To Hunt Down And Capture Oguche And Mooney's Killers .”
He noted that majority of the missions undertaken by NAF were Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions aimed at gathering intelligence and identifying criminal hideouts in the North West, while others were air interdiction missions against identified, legitimate armed bandits’ locations. The NAF spokesman added that apart from conducting air operations, the NAF Special Forces of the 207 Quick Response Group, Gusau, also conducts ground operations to secure Zamfara State and its environs, working in close coordination with the surface forces and other security agencies deployed in the area.
“All of these are done to ensure the security of lives and property of the people of Zamfara State and environs,” he stated. Refuting the Zamfara monarchs’ claim, he explained that “before any attack mission is conducted or any target is engaged, the NAF ensures that it carries out detailed ISR missions as a follow-up to reliable credible human intelligence to ensure proper targeting in order to, as much as possible, avoid collateral damage.
“Furthermore, as standard practice, NAF attack aircraft on air interdiction missions are accompanied by ISR platforms that guide them to designated targets. Moreover, NAF pilots, by training and in line with extant Rules of Engagement for any operation, do not attack any location if it is observed that non-combatants are present.”
While calling for public support, he said that NAF would not relent in its unwavering commitment to sustain its operations to flush out armed bandits from Zamfara and its environs in collaboration with other security agencies, adding that the Service will not take any action that will jeopardize the safety and security of the people of Zamfara State.
“As a professional organisation and in line with our constitutional mandate, we shall not be distracted but ensure that the innocent people of Zamfara and, indeed, all Nigerians are safe and secure to be able to pursue their legitimate aspirations.
The NAF hereby advocates public support and not condemnation as its personnel continues to make daily sacrifices towards eliminating all forms of threats to the security and indeed the development of our dear country,” he concluded.